Fun with language from the wide world o' blogs:
The "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks (Making Fun of Bad Punctuation Since 2005) is exactly as advertised: a collection of signs, ads, and articles festooned with random inverted commas. An example: The "last" person to leave "dont forget" to close the door. Blogkeeper Bethany comments: "While I'm sure they appreciate the reminder, I wonder how you know if you are the 'last' person or not?"
Along the same lines, lowercase L asks the plaintive question, "Ever notice hand-written signs with letters in all-caps, except for the letter L? It looks like an uppercase i ... WHY DO PEOPlE WRITE lIKE THIS?"
More peevology (thanks, Mr. Verb, for that useful term!) over at Mother Tongue Annoyances, written by amateur linguist Tim Warner. Actually, Tim is more tickled than annoyed with "tits" as an adjective ("How was the movie?" "It was tits.")
Literal-Minded consists of commentary from linguist Neal Whitman, "a guy who takes things too literally." Here's a timely post from the archives about "back to school" as a noun phrase, as in "Getting Ready for Back-to-School."
One of my favorite fashion blogs, Une Femme d'un Certain Age, considers the definition of flattering in the realm of style:
Very few people in our culture question the desirability of wanting to appear "thinner/taller/younger" so when you say something is flattering, that's usually shorthand for accentuating at least one of the Appearance Holy Trinity. But what if you lived in a culture with a different aesthetic?
A Roguish Chrestomathy (chrestomathy: a collection of choice passages from an author or authors, esp. one compiled to assist in the acquirement of a language) considers the case of the New Zealand couple who wanted to name their son 4Real. The Registrar-General of that country disallowed the name on grounds that the dictionary definition of a name was "a sequence of characters." Not so fast, says RC:
A name is not "a sequence of characters." (And, of course, not all sequences of characters are names.) Here's the OED's first definition of the noun name, which strikes me as a good deal more accurate: "The particular combination of sounds employed as the individual designation of a single person, animal, place, or thing." In other words, names are primarily sounds, not letters.
"4real" is a sequence of characters, dammit! So even if we accept the Registrar-General's definition, it provides absolutely no basis for rejecting the name.
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