Friday, May 28, 2010

Frog crisis in Greece

Language Log is often interesting. I'm linking to this post because there's a comment by me, dated this morning. It's about the kind of stuff that makes you go "whaa?"

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Today I was working on a book with a quotation from a nineteenth-century Englishman; the quotation had infallible as an adverb. So I looked infallible up in the OED to see whether it was used as an adverb at the time. It wasn't, but it was obsoletely used as a verb long ago. My favorite exemplary quotation is from The Golden Law (1656), by S. H. (Samuel Harsnett):

We will next pursue it with right Reason which will selfly infallible it.

No big deal. I just liked it and wanted to share it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

You know you're in trouble when "proverbial" appears twice in one paragraph

Lots of iterativity here: me reprinting a Jonathan Chait item that cites someone who Chait claims is Nico Pitney (at the end of the cited column, several names appear including Pitney's) quoting and making fun of Eric Alterman. Says Chait:

"Finding all the cliches and mixed metaphors in this Eric Alterman paragraph is like cutting fish in a barrel with a butter knife," writes Nico Pitney. After reading the paragraph in question, I think he understates:
And yet even with all its proverbial ducks lined up—a populist crusade is just what the doctor ordered for a divided and dispirited party going into perilous midterm elections—the administration and its lieutenants in Congress are still shooting as many blanks as real bullets at the bad guys. It’s not that their bills are all bullshit, as the Republicans’ clearly are. They contain many worthy measures that would, as almost any fair-minded economist will tell you, provide a proverbial “step [or two] in the right direction.” But somewhere along the line, whether in Obama’s White House, Tim Geithner’s Treasury Department, Barney Frank’s House Banking Committee or Christopher Dodd’s Senate side, a decision was made to let the big fish get away.

Jonathan Chait, "Like Teaching an Old Dog That Didn't Bark to Herd Cats," New Republic, posted May 4, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Worthless grammar edicts from Harvard

Specifically, from economist Greg Mankiw. This post by Geoffrey K. Pullum is well worth reading. (Even though he doesn't know how to spell "Jeffrey.")