Dulce, utile, et decorum est pro patria scribere.
Not sure if Bill Roberts wrote this limerick, but he sent it in answer to “buzzards seldom work”:
You Say Tomato, I Am Outraged
In Malaysia “Muslims [are] outraged over a ruling this past weekend that allows the country’s 850,000 Roman Catholics to use the word Allah to describe God.” A Malaysian newspaper uses the word to mean God because some indigenous people have no such word in their language.
Pre-9/11, if I ever thought about Islam, which I didn’t, I would have assumed that Allah is simply the Arabic word for God, like Dios (Spanish), Dieu (French), Gott (German), Dio (Italian), Deus (Portuguese), God (Dutch), and other words in alphabets I can’t read. But no.
Do Muslims think every other reference to God is not to the God but to their very own proprietary deity, though the Arabic word is pre-Islamic? There are those who think Allah is really Ba’al. Do Muslims think there is more than one Supreme Being, with different names? The theology is not clear to me, but it reminds me of the old joke that God is, of course, an Englishman, and not only that, an English gentleman. Or, if the (English) King James Bible was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.
Playing for the Other Team
Also in the news is Satan, who is, surprisingly, a Czech hockey player. Miroslav Satan is a handsome devil; he’s married and has a little Satan Junior.
Frankly, I’m Puzzled
It seems to me that word puzzle books contain more typos than they used to, and sometimes the word definitions are sloppy, such as making “peace” a clue for “neutrality”.
Along the same lines, when a young Grammy-nominated trio called Lady Antebellum sang the National Anthem at the Sugar Bowl the other day, one of the young men sang “Oh say can you see though the dawn’s early light” instead of “through” although it should be “by”. Can he have a clear idea of what the words actually mean?
Once I worked briefly as a freelance puzzle magazine proofreader, because I often work puzzles while I watch TV and I figured I’d make a few bucks doing something I do anyway. But proofreading needs more concentration. I ended up making about $2 an hour and decided that even if I developed more speed, I might not get up to minimum wage, plus I had to meet the deadlines. So though I’m pretty good at solving the puzzles, I gave it up.
The poor economy must be reducing proofreaders and proofreading hours, and I can’t help thinking that the very youngest college grads who might take this job for a while aren’t literate enough to do a good enough job. But what about the puzzle makers? Who are they? I always think of them as old (that is, older than me). I can accept the typos but not neutrality as peace.
The Education Front: Science Is for White People
The Berkeley school district may eliminate science labs and teachers because mostly white students are in the classes and do well in them. Who are the racists here? I’m forming a posse to make sure George Washington Carver is turning over in his grave. We’ll charter a bus to go to Tuskegee Institute, where he’s buried. I worked there for a few months, a long time ago and a long story ago.
Interesting article in the NY Times language column on why we have inchoate but not choat, insult but not sult, and so on. It’s because the prefix “in” of course does not always make a word into a negative. It has another meaning, to wit, in. People are tempted to drop the prefix, but you shouldn’t do it unless you’re joking, as is Allan Weiss in “The Domitable Knight”. (I don’t know if he wrote it or just copied it.) Some time ago I included a similar little story of false coinages in PO but can’t find it now (see Stupid Cheap below).
Somewhere I read “low lives” referring to bad people. It should have been “low lifes” even though ordinarily the plural of life is lives. In this case, “low life” is a special idiom that needs to be heard and seen as a whole, and shouldn’t follow the usual grammar rule. www.merriam-webster.com gives both forms but lowlifes, as a single word, is first. However, even the sound of “low life” is weakened when you exchange the hissy sound of F for the soft V sound.
The Global Language Monitor reports that the most-used word in 2009 was Twitter. Other trendy words make up their top ten. They have an algorithm for figuring this out, which possibly produces a word from a predetermined list. Clearly Twitter can’t be the most commonly used word in English, which is probably “the” or “a” or something like that. And I doubt if it’s the most commonly used noun in conversation, or even in print, even discounting the function words. GLM must be compiling lists of words that the media like to latch on to.
I missed the New Year’s Eve blue moon. As you may know, a blue moon is the second full moon in a calendar month. It doesn’t happen often, especially on New Year’s Eve.
I would have thought that “smash mouth” would be a joking reference to kissing. But no. Smash mouth football is rough football. I’ve seen way too much football lately.
The correct pronunciation of "Appalachia" is West Virginia
… but “I know the correct pronunciation of Appalachian” is a Facebook page. They say the correct pronunciation is AppaLATCHan, not AppaLAYchun. However, yourdictionary.com gives LAY as the first pronunciation and LATCH as the second. Wikipedia says (with phonetic symbols omitted):
My family was from Appalachia and I never heard any of them use the word. They said, “I’m from West Virginia.” You wouldn’t expect someone from Denver to say “I’m from the Rockies” or someone from Hot Springs to say “I’m Ozarkian”.
PO stalwart Dave DaBee (David DeBronkart to his other friends) is on Wikipedia. Check out the wonderful work he’s doing on behalf of patient participatory medicine.
Our computer should come back from the shop today, we hope with some of the files still intact, years of work. The computer guy told us two or three times that he backs up everything before working on a computer, but he didn’t, and he screwed it up further while he fixed the original problem, then wanted to charge more money for partially restoring our files. Fred changed his mind about that.
We had backed up files at one time and another using Mozy and Norton 360. Mozy says I cancelled my account in October, which I didn’t and had no reason to do since it was a free service. Norton (Symantec), instead of answering a query, automatically renewed the service subscription. Haven’t heard back from them yet otherwise.
I bought a flash drive for the laptop and we’ll probably buy a backup hard drive for the desktop, which is what the low life computer guy calls “stupid cheap”: it’s cheap and it’s stupidly simple, but it works. I’m advising all of you to back up in more than one way. We’ve just experienced three different kinds of backup failure at the same time.
The Weekly Gizzard: Moi on Examiner.com
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Besides the political motivations for doing so, treating jihadists like individual criminals is understandable only...
Friday, January 1, 2010
The announcer for today's Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena wound up the Tuskegee Airmen float entry by...
Thursday, December 31, 2009
As the Cincinnati Independent Examiner, I wish you all a Happy and Independent New Year, no matter who you vote...
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Cincinnati is home to the Restavek Foundation, started by Jean Robert Cadet, who was once a child slave in Haiti....
I’m publishing for the Kindle digital reader with Amazon and now also on Lulu.com for download to computer and for printing. Most of these titles are available in both locations. Search for Rhonda Keith on Amazon.com Kindle store and Lulu.com.
A Walk Around Stonehaven is a travel article on my trip to Scotland. Short article with photos. (Lulu.com only.)
The Wish Book is fantasy-suspense-romance featuring the old Sears Roebuck catalogues. Novella.
Carl Kriegbaum Sleeps with the Corn is about a young gambler who finds himself upright in a cornfield in Kansas with his feet encased in a tub of concrete; how would you get out of a spot like that? Short story.
Still Ridge is about a young woman who moves from Boston to Appalachia and finds there are two kinds of moonshine, the good kind and the kind that can kill you. Short story.
Whither Spooning? asks whether synchronized spooning can be admitted to the 2010 Winter Olympics. Humorous sports article.
Blood, Sweat, Tears, and Cats: One woman's tale of menopause, in which I learn that the body is predictive; I perceive that I am like my cat; and I find love. Autobiographical essay.
Parvum Opus Volume I. The first year (December 2002 through 2003). You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll get PO’ed. Collection of columns.
10% discount on my Lulu publications:
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Scot Tartans: T-shirts and more (custom orders available).
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. 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.