So today, wordies, would have been the 62nd birthday of preeminent word nerd Douglas Adams. How many of us grew up reading all five of the books in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy? Did you make jokes about the number 42? And did you randomly say “So long and thanks for all the fish”? And do you now love to quote Adams’ sage words: “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” Sure, me, too.
Last summer, on my way to what turned out to be a delightful vacation in Wyoming visiting the Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, there was an unfortunate stop at the Denver airport (I promise this story will turn out to be about Douglas Adams—eventually). I’m not a good flyer to begin with (and yes, my worst-case-flight-disaster scenario involves sharks), and the approach to Denver was as I had been warned it would be: deeply, deeply turbulent. So, wasn’t feeling that great all around but happy to see we were about to hit the ground when the pilot suddenly—in a way that made me understand at a visceral level what the word suddenly really means—pulled the plane up and shot back into the sky. I think we all groaned at once.
Finally arriving on the ground in Denver felt miraculous in a certain way, but I was so sick to my stomach I was starting to doubt I could possibly get on the next plane for the final leg the trip to Jackson Hole (in a tiny plane. Who doesn’t love a tiny plane?). I gather I missed a lot of the things there are to enjoy at the Denver airport in my airsick haze, including some kind of demonic blue horse, but as I sat down at the gate to wait for the next flight, I looked up and saw this window.
I don’t know what inspired Denver airport to have a little fun with their view here, but I loved it. And between this much-needed dose of levity and the fact that I had my towel safely stowed in my bag, I really did feel much less panicked.
My wordies — how time has flown! If it’s March 4, it’s National Grammar Day once again, and here’s MRP with some goodies. Just. For. You.
First, h/t to one of my roving reporters for this little tidbit, spotted in Minneapolis. Oh dear, will no one think of the childrens and add an apostrophe to Children’s Center? Please?
Next, you could do no better than to head over to the official National Grammar Day site (put together by the one and only Grammar Girl) for t-shirts, contests, free wallpaper, and other Grammar Day swag. While you’re there, you’ll want to check out this year’s installment of John E. McIntyre‘s Grammarnoir serial: “Grammar Never Takes a Holiday” (and read Grammarnoirs of years past) and get the results of Editor Mark‘s grammar haiku contest. And for real-live Grammar Day fun, check out #grammarday on Twitter.
And there’s more. More! Because you’ve been so good this year, here’s the late, great Pete Seeger with his rendition of “English is Crazy” (more like English is curaaaaayzee!). You know that’s true.
And if you’ve never seen this piece by poet Taylor Mali, then you’ll want to check out “The The Impotence of Proofreading,” like, now. H/t to David for that.
And finally, wordies, please remember what MRP has always told you on this most special of word nerd days: You have been given a great power and with it comes great responsibility. Have mercy — do not use your ability to write grammatically correct, well-punctuated, and perfectly spelled sentences to put down and insult those who struggle mightily. Go forth and be kind to others who have made mistakes. Peeve no more — next time, the red pen may be pointed at you. Happy National Grammar Day!
On this National Grammar Day, here are some suggestions of ways in which to celebrate:
Or make like MRP and bake some delicious chocolate truffle with sea salt cookies.
Wait, what? Yeah, that’s what I said: bake some cookies. Or, if baking isn’t your thing, do something else that brings you enjoyment on this day. Because, as I’ve said before and will say again, there’s nothing about National Grammar Day that should invite us to do anything other than share in the fun (and really, what goes together better than chocolate and grammar?). So settle back with a grammartini, sing the Grammar Song, and snuggle up with your favorite style guide. And have fun.
Have a happy National Grammar Day, wordies. March forth and peeve no more.
Yo, wordies: You know what tomorrow is, right?
That’s right: National Grammar Day. Check out the official website for resources, t-shirts, songs, this year’s installment of John E. McIntyre’s Grammarnoir serial, and much more.
Okay, I don’t really judge anyone for using poor grammar. I mean, not really.
Okay, maybe just a little. But just a little.
H/t someecards and Beth.
I’m a little in love with the Target coupon booklet that came in the mail yesterday.
I admit I just flipped through it and almost tossed it without paying much attention to its concept, largely because it’s got the regular look and feel of most Target mailings. It was just lying on my counter this morning when the front finally caught my eye. I mean, what kind of line is “Hi, Coupons!”? What could it mean?
So I looked at it a little more closely and read the line “(Or should we say, ‘haiku-pons’?)”. Underneath that, it said, “Stock up with poetic savings inside.” This was starting to get a little strange—and a little awesome—for Target.
So I opened it up. Inside, there’s a little explanation of what a “haiku-pon” is and how to write a haiku. Neat.
Here’s how it works. You look at the coupons:
You see a haiku (I mean, loosely speaking. These maybe don’t follow all the rules of traditional haiku). Then maybe you use one of the coupons. In tearing out one of the coupons, you expose the lines on the back of the next coupon.
Now you have a NEW haiku.
Well, the end of this story is that I Googled the Target haiku-pons and apparently this is only new to me; they have been around for a while. And it’s not particularly good or high-brow kind of poetry.
But still, it’s poetry in an unexpected place. And for that, I kind of love it.
In this little eggcorn, an unsuspecting YouTube commenter uses peddle stool when pedestal was the word they were seeking.
Peddle stool (or pedal stool) seems to be a somewhat common rendering of pedestal (as documented, for example, by the Eggcorn Database and Brians’ Common Errors in English Usage) but what people understand a peddle stool (or pedal stool) to even be is kind of beyond me. Anyone got any ideas?
A quick perusal of the InterWebs leads to all kinds of eggcorn-related amusement, though. This guy sings a whole song about being put up on a peddle stool. Over at Language Log, there’s an entire essay composed of eggcorns. And tv show “The IT Crowd” got some mileage out of the joke.
Apparently, folks in California are looking forward to a visit from one of their favorite folk heroes: Paul Bunion. Wonder if he’ll be traveling with his pals Tom Toenail and Harry the Hammertoe.
Here on the East Coast, we’ll be holding out for a visit from that other guy: Paul Bunyan.
H/t to my West Coast correspondent, who spotted this little tidbit in the East Bay Express.
This little tidbit spotted in Metrowest Boston struck a certain chord:
Okay, here’s the deal. If you are buying a “a unit of wood cut for fuel equal to a stack 4 x 4 x 8 feet or 128 cubic feet,” then that’s a cord (M-W). If you are a strumming on your guitar by the fire that you have built using some of the wood from the cord you just bought, then you are playing a few chords (“three or more musical tones sounded simultaneously,” M-W).
If you get a very good deal on your cord of wood, you might be getting it for a song. But that’s a lot of chords. Usually. Unless it’s a very boring song. Then maybe only one chord. But that’s a different story.
This little tidbit, spotted on Craigslist, absolutely cracked me up. The poster is trying to make their old table seem more appealing by labeling it as shabby chic. Instead, they mixed chic with sheik, and gave it a whole new meaning.
Okay, here’s the deal: If you are talking about “a male leader in an Arab country,” then the word you want is sheik (or sheikh) (Macmillan). If you are talking about something that is “fashionable and attractive in style,” then the word you want is chic (Macmillan). Is it possible for there to be a shabby sheik? No doubt. But when referring to furniture, the term you want is shabby chic.
Here’s more on chic-sheik as homophones and as eggcorns.