Another Wrong Word

rogersgeorge on January 6th, 2018

I see this goof often enough that I think we’re going to lose this battle, (but if you write anything the least bit expository (you know—when you explain something (which this blog is about, after all))) you should use the correct word, regardless of what everybody else does. (Okay, I could have written a less convoluted sentence there, but I thought it would be fun to nest a couple parentheses.)

Anyway, the bad word is nauseous. At least it is when you mean nauseated.

Piranha Club - 12/27/2017

The rule: nauseous means you (or something) makes people want to throw up. Nauseated means you (or someone) feels like throwing up.

Don’t be nauseous to us who know better! We don’t like to feel nauseated!

PS: Did you hear about the frustrated cannibal? He threw up his arms.


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Quantum Mechanics in a Grammar Post?

rogersgeorge on December 22nd, 2017

Well, sort of. Really the post is about Latin plurals.

I’m learning that people prefer these posts to be short and (heh) sweet. Grammar does tend to get complicated at times, so I’ll try not to put so much, um, content into my posts.

Here’s a really short one about quantum mechanics; that should be doable, right?

Here’s the quote, from an article in This Day in History:

Planck’s theory held that radiant energy is made up of particle-like components, known as “quantum.”

Alas, the writer got his Latin plural wrong. The sentence should end with “quanta.” “Quanta” is like “data” and “criteria.” Those are plurals, and their singulars are “quantum,” “datum,” and “criterion.”

How’s that for short—only quantum mechanics and Latin plurals.

Really Short Lesson

rogersgeorge on December 2nd, 2017

I’m busy. Today’s lesson is short and sweet. Can you tell the mistake in English in this comic?

Well, it’s in the first panel. Aside from the fact that we have a false subject (it), you should say “It seems that people measure…”

thanks today to Nathan Cooper’s In the Sticks for the quick lesson.

Why do Cartoonists Keep Posting Variations of this Joke?

rogersgeorge on November 28th, 2017

Maybe it’s an easy solecism to make fun of. Dogs of C-Kennel.


rogersgeorge on November 16th, 2017

I recently read an article about a book of words that English should have but doesn’t. (I tried to find it, and discovered there must be a million articles on the subject, so I suggest you do a search on “words not in English” or a similar phrase and go surfing. You’ll even find quite a few if you limit yourself to Scientific American.

Which brings us to a philosophical question: If English doesn’t have a word, can we even think the thought that the word represents? Yes! We use a circumlocution.

A circumlocution is a way of describing something without using the actual word; saying the word’s definition, as it were, or a metaphor of some kind for what the word is about. Usually we think of a circumlocution as a way to avoid using an embarrassing word; we sometimes call these euphemisms or “beating around the bush.”

It turns out English is full of idioms that are circumlocutions; today at breakfast I used a circumlocution and got teased about it; I decided this expression was a good subject to write a post about.

Four of us were enjoying breaking our nighttime fast (circumlocution for breakfast) and the coffee flowed generously (circumlocution for I drank a lot of coffee). Presently I had to get up, and I said, “Excuse me, I need to go use the men’s room.” (an obvious circumlocution for, um, what I intended to do in there (another circumlocution)). My buddy said, “Hope everything comes out all right.” (another one) And everyone laughed. This exchange would make no sense to anyone from a culture that had no taboos on scatology, but it made perfect sense to us American English speakers.

If you listen for them, I bet you’ll hear lots of circumlocutions in normal conversation.

And because I like to include pictures in my posts, I did a search on “men’s room comics” and found this example of not intending a circumlocution:

Image result for men's room cartoon