Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Parvum Opus 350: NerdCaps

Dulce, utile, et decorum est pro patria scribere.


Put on Your NerdCaps

Mike Sykes explains how CamelCase is useful in programming:

The short answer is that have to think of names for things (variables, labels, files), and for clarity, which is important, one often needs more than one word, as in "last entry", "middle initial". Spaces are not allowed inside a name (except in Microsoft file names where they were a serious mistake in my view). Hyphens can be mistaken for minus signs (though they're allowed in Cobol). Underscores are on upshift* which is not only a nuisance, but they take up space as well as looking awful. So lastEntry is an easy way of making the name is easier to understand — at least as easy as last_entry. And names may be quite long; SetTitleMatchMode, ChangeButtonNames are genuine examples.
The long answer is in

*That extra cap is also on upshift (which we just call Shift in the US).

Remember when PC file names had to be no more than eight characters long? And no spaces.

Wikipedia says “this article calls the two alternatives upper camel case and lower camel case. Some people and organizations use the term camel case only for lower camel case.” But wouldn’t lower camel case be a broke-back camel?

Other synonyms are:

· BumpyCaps or BumpyCase

· CamelBack (or camel-back) notation

· CamelCaps

· CamelHump

· CapitalizedWords or CapWords for upper camel case in Python

· ClCl (Capital-lower Capital-lower) and sometimes ClC

· compoundNames

· HumpBack (or hump-back) notation

· InterCaps or intercapping

· InternalCapitalization

· LeadingCaps for upper camel case

· mixedCase for lower camel case in Python

· NerdCaps

· Pascal case for upper camel case

· RollerCoasterCaps

· WikiWord or WikiCase (especially in wikis)

My favorite is NerdCaps, which would make a great name for a new line of head gear.

Bad Sex in Fiction Award

A new literary contest! I didn’t know about the Bad Sex Award (at least in literature). Jonathan Littell, who won the Prix Goncourt in 2006 for The Kindly Ones, has won the Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award for the same book. This is the kind of writing that earned Littell the prize:

'I came suddenly, a jolt that emptied my head like a spoon scraping the inside of a soft-boiled egg.'

The physiology alone…

Should I have added a warning at the beginning of that paragraph? Could that passage be considered in any way adult, or conducive to lustful imaginings? You can find more at the Literary Review web site, and (warning) it is much more graphic, as they say, and also very bad writing. But could it be called pornographic when it’s so much more likely to make the reader become celibate than lustful? “Why does your god deny you this?” asks someone in one of the rejected literary samples. Because it’s lousy writing, which means lousy thinking, which makes for lousy sex. It makes one long for the old days of the line of asterisks that indicated a steamy literary interlude.


Particle Verbs

Rich Lederer wrote:

Here are some additional thoughts on phrasal verbs, which I have been calling particle verbs.

First, you can distinguish phrasal verbs from prepositional phrases by seeing how the particle behaves when reconfigured. Thus, "Up the chimney I looked" is a somewhat recognizable English sentence, but "Up the word I looked" is an absurdity. Conclusion: In "I looked up the chimney," "up" is a preposition and "up the chimney" is a prepositional phrase. But in "I looked up the word," "up" is a particle and part of a phrasal verb.

Additional proof is the pronoun placement rule. "I looked the word up" and "I looked up the word" are both recognizable English sentences. So is "I looked it up." But note that "I looked up it" is not natural English. Conclusion: In English statements, pronouns can almost always replace nouns, but often they can't if a phrasal verb is involved.

“I looked up the chimney” is also different from “I looked up Mary when I was in town”; these are idiomatic. But somehow phrases like “Up the word I looked” me of Pennsylvania Dutch (or Deutsch/German), where you might see something like KEEP THE PAINT OFF” (wet paint)!

Herb Hickman asked this:

Do you have a name for the practice in which a verb, or verb plus its object, are repeated for the sole purpose of adding an adverb? I've come to think of it as to Five-Oh the verb, under the vague suspicion that the TV show "Hawaii Five Oh" writers invented it. "We've got to move and move fast!" "Hit 'em and hit 'em hard!" "Find it and find it fast!" Annoy him and annoy him without ceasing.

I would just call it repetition for emphasis, but perhaps there is a rhetorical term. Rich? I don’t think the Five-Oh writers invented it, but at the moment I can’t come up with earlier examples. I’m sure you’d find them in all the old cowboy movies, which I watched devotedly as a child. In fact it sounds nearly Shakespearean.

On the Radio

-///- At the end of a computer radio program: “Happy computering!” — not computing. Ordinarily I would think this is a case of using an invented verb and forgetting the perfectly good verb already available, but not so. “Computing” means either calculating, or whatever it is that the computer does faster than you do. “Computering” here means using the computer and its applications.

-///- On a radio segment discussing an odious pair of child molesters, a prosecutor said “mopery” is the correct police term for such crimes, and a “mope” is a molester. These terms are rarely used in ordinary conversation or literature, and are not found on my usual online dictionaries. Wikipedia gives them a different, more general definition. But I’d believe the police when they talk about their own words.

-///- Another crime report: A man busted for operating a meth lab faces “enhanced charges” because a child was present. “Enhanced” almost always means improved rather than increased but apparently the distinction between quality and quantity isn’t always clear with this word in some people’s minds, and indeed a greater penalty can seem like a better penalty.

Christmas Books

Tim Bazzett writes:

Just wanted to let you know that all of my books at have been drastically reduced in price for the holidays. Please click on the website for details. If you want any of the books for Christmas, you must order soon. All four books are also available on Amazon, but not at these prices, and all books ordered direct from RatholeBooks will be personally inscribed and signed.

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season.

All the best,


A former student of mine from an African country I don’t recall wrote this on his Facebook page (not to me):

wa gaa lolou moom wakh nanou ko koi: dereum ak dereum moom noo meneu andd. Wa nii nakk nioom niooy niann?

He also speaks English and French. I don’t know what this language is and there’s no online translator for it. It seems to have been a comment on a photo of three rather glamorous young African women. Intriguing.

Remember Pearl

Today is Pearl Harbor Day. After WWII, my dad returned from the South Pacific after a few years on the aircraft carrier Intrepid, and brought home some souvenirs, one of which was a doll-sized pair of underpants imprinted with “Remember Pearl.”

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Trivium pursuit ~ rhetoric, grammar, and logic, or reading, writing, and reckoning: Parvum Opus discusses language, education, journalism, culture, and more. Parvum Opus by Rhonda Keith is a publication of KeithOps / Opus Publishing Services. Editorial input provided by Fred Stephens. Rhonda Keith is a long-time writer, editor, and English teacher. Back issues from December 2002 may be found at; 2009 issues are at Feel free to e-mail me with comments or queries. The PO mailing list is private, never given or sold to anyone else. If you don't want to receive Parvum Opus, please e-mail, and I'll take you off the mailing list. Copyright Rhonda Keith 2009. Parvum Opus or part of it may be reproduced only with permission, but you may forward the entire newsletter as long as the copyright remains.

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