Monday, 29 October 2012

A @name

Twitter has a search bar thing and in it, it says "enter a @name or username". Now, I've been pronouncing @name as "at name", because that to me is an "at sign". I don't know if twitter is calling it something else. That's what the article "a" rather than "an" suggests. But what could it be calling it?

In other languages, it's called things like "monkey tail", "elephant's trunk", "little dog", "snail" and other animal-based names reflecting its shape. But in English it's really only called the "at sign".

So twitter, why you no obey phonological rules?

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Maximal destruct of pairing

I get occasional spam comments on my post about spam comments. I got this one today:

I'm glad to know that Mary is in position to support me with the maximal destruct of pairing in essay penning. But I really think she should employ a good exclusive educator writer to impact on her own naming.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Toilet language

This sign is in the toilet near my office:

It describes the toilet as 'communal'. Nothing wrong with that; communal means shared by members of a community. But somehow it just makes me think of us all using it at the same time, like a communal changing room.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

LOL is a verb

Well, you knew that. It's short for 'laugh out loud'. Is that a verb? Well, depends how you use it. If you mean '[I am] laughing out loud [right now]' then not really; it's a gerund or maybe a participle. But if you say 'I totally LOLed at that' then yeah, you just verbed LOL.

But I'm not talking about boring old English. In French (which, remember, people love to hold up as an example of a sensible language with a prescriptive Academie Francaise to uphold the standards of purity in the language) they've only gone and verbed it there too!

As you might expect, it's an -er verb, the 'default' conjugation (see Steven Pinker's 'Words and Rules' for a lay-person-friendly explanation of default inflections). This means you get this paradigm:
je lole
tu loles
il/elle/on lole
nous lolons
vous lolez
ils/elles lolent
(I totally just conjugated that from memory so it may not be absolutely accurate.)

Notice that this is an English acronym with French morphology applied to it. A knowledgeable colleague told me today that French has its own acronymic (yes, it's an initialism, not an acronym, whatever) equivalent of FML. It's VDM, or 'vie de merde', apparently. Go French.