Archive for the ‘Language’ Category

Them, Robots

November 5, 2008

I’ve been searching for the perfect word to describe Barack Obama fanatics. Portmanteaus seemed to be the perfect neologistical type but all the ones I have found were unsatisfying to pronounce. “Obamaniac” was the closest but it just doesn’t work as a word and I’ve seen too many of them co-opt it for themselves. I don’t disparage people who like it.

While driving home from dinner tonight, I came up with a doozy. With a sigh of relief at the conclusion of a long, tiring expedition, I offer up Obamaton. Looking over the results at Google and Twitter, I cannot lay claim to originality but at least I’m well clear of cliché.

Replacing the Shopworn

September 8, 2008

In the spirit of Matthew Baldwin’s Cliché Rotation Project, I offer the following:

“can’t see the forest for the trees” “can’t see the directory for the files”
“can’t see the array for the items”
“can’t see the site for the pages”
“can’t see the byte for the bits”
“take it with a grain of salt” “take it with a check of Snopes”

I’ll add to this list as they come to me.

Contributing to the Growth of the English Language

February 27, 2008

I think I just coined a new word today—encomp (verb): the act of getting an application to match the comprehensive design provided by the designers. Usage: “Oh, I just got the slices from Andy so now it’s time to start encomping.”

I can’t find any usages of it on Google, just confusion with encompassing. I claim this neologism then.

Shopworn But Not Forgotten

March 23, 2006

I love it when a cliché gets twisted up and acquires fresh life. I’ve come across this “remix” before, but it never fails to bring a smile: “Give a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a night. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.” It’s obviously tongue-in-cheek and I couldn’t find its originator anywhere online though it shows up extensively.

That’s Debatable

June 16, 2005

FYI: an argument is moot when those arguing should be mute. If you can’t get these straight, may I recommend the lovely “debatable?”

[UPDATE (6/17/05): “Irrelevant” would also work in some contexts.]

Pet Peeves: Yeah, Baby!

July 31, 2003

Watching The Amazing Race tonight, I realized that I had moved from dislike to sheer hatred of the phrase “Yeah, baby!” It came on the scene a year or two before Austin Powers completely ruined its novelty. If you say this (and you know who you are because you probably say a lot of these cliché verbal crutches), please consider coming up with something new or, perhaps, ditch the crutches and banter on your own.

If you think about it, its affirmatory power is neither a solid “Yes” and is tempered by the indiscriminate “Baby,” normally reserved for infants or loved ones. If I have to use something like it, I’ll go with a good ol’ “Yes indeedy!” or “You bet your sweet bippy!”—which has the added benefit of being inscrutable to everyone under the age of 30 and nostalgic to those over.

The American Dialect Society has

January 21, 2003

The American Dialect Society has posted its Words of the Year 2002 list. The winner: weapons of mass destruction. Ugh. I have grown to completely hate this word. I have disliked it since my first encounter. It resounds of military euphemism while signifying nothing since it could encompass chemical, biological, nuclear, and even conventional weapons. I can’t think of a more massive destruction wrought this century then the firestorms of Dresden during World War II. What’s the meaning of the word beyond “weapon”?

Some of the other words were creative though without much chance of lasting. “Teen angstrel” meaning “angst-ridden popular singer.” “Walking pinata” meaning “person subjected to relentless criticism.” “201(k)” meaning a “401(k) ruined by stock losses.” “Embetterment,” apparently used by George Bush in a speech, reminds me a lot of the made-up Simpsons word “embiggen.”