Wordy Wednesday

Loose Parts by Blazek

On Monday when I was driving back to work from my Chiropractor appointment, I saw a new billboard for some bite-sized snack which was supposed to take care of your hunger pangs in between meals or something. The snack looked, from the 3,000-times-the-actual-size photograph, totally unidentifiable as a specific food (more specific than “bite-sized snack,” anyway), and I don’t think the name was very specific either–just “Bites” or something. No mention of what they were bites. Still, they appeared somewhat yummy, in an unidentifiable, not-particularly-healthy kind of way.

In the lower left-hand corner of the billboard was a subtitular descriptor of sorts that announced:

Cooked Perfect Bites

Never mind that someone had smudged out a section of the second “o” so that it looks like it says, Cocked Perfect Bites. (I like my bawdy humour as much as the next person, and maybe more than a Christian Youth Group Leader should, but I also like it to have a little bit of intelligence behind it.) The thing that really got me was the Absolutely Horrendous Grammar of this advertisement. Perfect, in this case, is an adverb modifying the adjective Cooked. (Or cocked. Either way, the grammar’s wrong.) But there was nothing perfect about this little claim.

Perfect, as an adverb, needs an ly. But even the makers of this billboard would know that Cooked Perfectly Bites doesn’t work. (It almost works if you’re trying to say, slangily and a little rudely, that being cooked perfectly is, for whatever reason, decidedly unsatisfactory.) It should, instead, say something like Perfectly Cooked Bites.

Sheesh, I thought, as I sailed by the billboard at speeds not conducive to snapping photos on my iPhone, No wonder no one can speak properly anymore! Probably another kind of police would have had something equally snarky to say about my driving, had any of them been around at the time. Fortunately for me, the only police at hand in this corner of Our Fair City at that moment, was this grammar one.

What’s the worst grammar gaffe you’ve ever seen in professional advertising?

LOL (Lingonberries of Lusciousness)

Memory Monday


I am an American of Swedish (and German, and a heck of a lot of other things) extraction . . . but my maternal Grandmother is Swedish and makes sure everybody knows it, so that’s kind of the alternate-nationality (alternationality?) with which I identify. Well, that, and English, since I lived over there for so long.

The first year I lived in London, I went to visit some friends in Sweden over Christmas and discovered that they had at least as many traditions associated with the holiday as I had had growing up, but that not many of them bore a very striking resemblance to the traditions as we observed them in our family, which had always been presented to us as “Swedish.” It didn’t matter much. I had a great time that Christmas in Sweden, but I also have an entire lifetime of happy Christmas memories which, apart from the birth of Jesus, largely pivot around traditions which I guess are more Swedish-immigrant traditions than anything else. (That’s kind of cool, too, if you think about it.)

One of these traditions is a Christmas Eve meal which is comprised of deliciously comforting peasant fare presented so elegantly you feel like you’re eating the rarest delicacies. There are also multiple courses. The first course is usually my favourite, I think, and it involves various cheeses and knäckebröd (Swedish hard tack) and limpa (Swedish rye bread) and sil (Swedish pickled herring) and lingonberries.

By now, everyone’s been to Ikea and tried lingonberries (and horse meatballs?), but when I was a kid not too many, if any, of my friends had heard of this fruit and I myself didn’t like it very much. Lingonberries come in a jar in a condition similar to un-gelled, chunky, cranberry sauce. The reason I didn’t like lingonberries as a kid was because they look a whole lot like cranberries (which I loved), and they taste almost like cranberries, but . . . then they don’t. Intellectually I knew not to expect them to taste like cranberries, but somehow I could never get my tastebuds on board with this realisation, and the weird, almost . . . I dunno . . . fleshy aftertaste just did me in every time.

I bring this up to illustrate (very very tenuously) my approach to the acronym lol. I know, this acronym hit the interwebs practically before there were even phones to text on, so it’s not like it’s a new thing or anything (although occasionally you still stumble across a story where someone discovered via awkward social snafus that it doesn’t stand for lots of love). My first experience with lol was via some letters by a young Hungarian woman I had known in Nannyville before I moved to London, and she peppered her missives with it. I didn’t like it because it seemed like a verbal tick, was used apparently arbitrarily, and it also looks like the word loll, which (unlike cranberries) has kind of stupefying and negative connotations.

Also, I didn’t know what it meant. So I asked her. Finding out did not help my impression any. Lol? Seriously? Are you telling me to laugh out loud? Because that seems rather presumptuous. Are you laughing out loud? Because your jokes aren’t really that funny. Was laugh out loud some kind of expression young people in the United States had started saying to each other, which I was missing because I had moved to London (thank goodness), before it was turned into an acronym? Because let’s face it, folks. It’s a clunky expression. But spontaneously generating an acronym like that without a preceding expression? Was just kind of hard for me to fathom. Still is, actually. I guess I still associate it with loll. I picture some person struck dumb with amazement at a cleverer person’s joke, tongue hanging out of their mouth, eyes glazed over, but still laughing a little bit maybe.

I don’t think my impression of lol is ever going to change. It’s pretty deeply rooted, and the actual word that I associate it with has no positive connotations for me, unlike cranberries have and which may or may not be why I now like lingonberries.

I’m not going to lie, though. I just saw the first entry to my BizarroWord contest, and I totally lol-ed. Multiple times, even. I admit it.

See if you can make me lol again. The rules are right here, under this badge (LOL).



Saturday Snippets #2

Yesterday I went to the seminary library to work on a Confessional Paper and a Sermon I need to write. I expected to stay there all day (which I did), so I brought my lunch. It was leftovers from the Valentine’s Dinner my Paul and I had made for each other. Included in these leftovers was a half a piece of steak. The library is in a church, and churches, as we all know, inevitably have kitchens, so microwaving was not a problem. Let me just say, though: It is really tricky to eat steak with a spoon and a regular table knifeOut of a small round plastic container.

Seeing is believing

Seeing is believing

Next time I’m totally bringing my own silverware . . .


There are various word-usage habits of other people that drive me absolutely bonkers. They’re not (at least in most cases) wrong, and I have no right to get my knickers in a twist over them but . . . almost inevitably I do every time. Which, as you may or may not know, is a little uncomfortable. Here are some of the offenders:

  1. Anyways. It seems like since college, outside of my biological family almost everybody I’ve ever cared about–platonically or romantically–has utilised this form of this particular verbal filler. I think God puts “anyways-sayers” in my life to teach me character and forbearance. I’m not sure it’s working. What is with the “s,” people?? I don’t understand the point of it. Now when I meet a new person and they start to say that word, I’m pretty sure I hold my breath until they finish it just to see which way they say it. If they say anyways, I become fairly certain they are slated to be my new best friend–and drive me nuts for the rest of my life.
  2. is, is. What this is, is awkward.
  3. E-Announcements. The seminary I attend is very good about sending out frequent announcements via email. That’s all well and good, but do they have to call them e-announcements? I suppose that’s what they are, but it’s so . . . well, I guess this one’s awkward, too, really. Just differently than is, is . . . is. If they were trying to be clever and called them E-nnouncements, I’d probably find fault with that, too (although that is what I would call them if I were writing them), but I still think it flows better. Or they could just call them Announcements. Because that’s what they are, too.


Speaking of hybrid words, or hybronyms, as Rarasaur’s David calls them, apparently some chick named Kiley is hosting a Fictionary contest over on her blog. Because of this, I can’t actually think of any of the good ones I’ve ever made up, but I’m going to play along with my less-than-optimal selections (I’m trying to make a hybronym out of that, but it’s just too many words, I think), because it’s fun. You can play, too. Here’s what Kiley says about her game:

1. Write a blog post (or two or three) with your word or funny phrase, complete with part of speech and definition, à la:

Poopidemic (noun): 1) when all the babies in the childcare center poop at the same time; 2) when the one baby in your household poops several times in one day’

2. Tag your post  ”Fictionary.”

3. Grab a badgeFictionary copy

4. Link your post (and the badge) back to this post, using URL:

5. Enter as many times as you want.

The top ten will earn a much-coveted spot in my Fictionary™.

The grand prize winner will win a batch of my Recrimination Muffins.*

Game Ends: Feb. 28, 2013

Keep it PG-13, people.

Game on!

So . . . I guess Ennouncement is one of my entries:

Ennouncement (noun): An announcement conveyed by email.

Here is a similar one:

Enniversary (noun): The day on which you celebrate your first email contact with your significant other. Because that’s how romance starts these days.

I didn’t make this one up, but one of my Paul’s favourites is:

Cankle (noun): A woman’s ankle with no definition–simply a continuation of her calf all the way down to her foot. (Happily, I do not have these. I have actual ankles.)

Okay, now you. (On your own blog so you can win the vegan muffins. Heh.)


Since we’re all about blog badges over here suddenly (although, I seem to be having sidebar image widget issues), now might be the time to tell you that I have another award to give out–which means I won it, too. This is the Leibster Award, and, like the man who gave it to me, I have no idea what that means. I also, I just realised, have no idea what this dude’s name is, but he writes a great blog called The Living Notebook, which you should totally check out.

Now I’m supposed to tell you some more things about myself (isn’t that what this blog is about every single day, anyway?), and so I’m going to tell you some things even I didn’t know about myself–the way Mr. LivingNotebook described me in his nomination. This is what he said:

She’s optimistic and energetic—a take-life-by-the-horns kind of gal—not to mention a woman of faith and a student of theology.

I’m totally on-board with the student of theology thing, and I hope that for the most part I’m a woman of faith, although I think it could always be stronger. What’s astonishing me is the optimistic and energetic part. I’ve always seen myself as a hopeful cynic (or a cynical idealist), which I suppose has some optimism sprinkled in there, but isn’t optimism through and through–and excessively low-energy. But you know how sometimes when people see you a different way it changes the way you see yourself? That could happen. Maybe. Anyway, I kind of like it. Thanks, Mr LivingNotebook!

Now I have to nominate some more blogs and since I’m not totally sure what this award is for, I’m not totally sure how to award this . . . award, but these blogs deserve awards, so . . . here:

The I-Don't-Know-What-This-Is-But-the-Badge-Is-Pretty Award

The I-Don’t-Know-What-This-Is-But-the-Badge-Is-Pretty Award

1. Sadie and Dasie – This woman takes fantastic photos, a theme a day. Also, she has really cute dogs.

2. Harsh Reality – By Opinionated Man. He may have opinions, but he’s not, I think, usually as offensive as he thinks he might be. Also, he’s got a good sense of humour.

3. O*PIN*ION*AT*ED MIS*CEL*LA*NY – Since we’re going with opinionated. I’m pretty sure “Liebster” has the German word for love as its root, but we can pretend it means opinionated if we need to. I haven’t been following this guy’s blog for very long, so I’m afraid I can’t tell you much about him, but that just means you should go over there and find out for yourself.

4. Rants from the Crib – This woman is an Ob/Gyn with a sense of humour. Also, apparently she just got out of a job she didn’t like very much. Congrats, my friend!

5. Fashion for Lunch – I never keep up with fashion, and I don’t claim to understand it, but it fascinates (fashionates? Hey Kiley–did you see that one?) me all the same. This chick’s got it down, though.

If you guys are going to accept your awards, don’t forget to 1) post the badge, 2) say thank you . . . heh, 3) tell us some stuff about you, and 4) nominate some other worthies. Have fun!


After my last two word-rant posts were soundly (and correctly) corrected by astute and intrepid members of The Readership (to whom I am honestly grateful) I began to take stock of my linguistic snobbery and have decided that it’s just safer to stop pointing out other people’s errors because I invariably make my own in the process of pointing out the others. This has happened in private, too–I recently noted a consistent error to a blogging friend of mine and in the email in which I did this, I made two or three ridiculous and glaring typos.

I don’t think there were any hard feelings, this person being quite gracious, and I certainly would prefer to have my errors pointed out so I don’t make them again, but I have to say I’m pretty sure Jesus wasn’t kidding when He said not to judge or we’d be judged in the same way as we judged. I’ve found this to be true in other judgey areas of my life. I must have thought there was some sort of pass for grammar snarks. Oh well.

Anyway, under the influence of this new resolution, it occurred to me that I could still, in public, make fun of my own word usage. With that in mind, I show you a copy of the kind of weekly update nonsense I send to the poor unsuspecting (well–they probably have a pretty good idea of what they’re in for at this point) teenagers of Now Church’s Youth Group. As of, like, September, I call these updates YoothNooz. Because bad spelling is acceptable if it’s intentional and especially if I’m the one committing it, of course. (If I could figure out how to make an umlaut on my computer, I’d probably call it YuthNuz, with umlauts over the u‘s.) That’s bad enough. But wait. It gets worse:

So . . . the Renaissance Faire was rainy. And closed early. But we were enthusiastic, so whatever. Here’s a picture.
photo by random Ren Faire lady 2012

The few, the proud

This week is the CROP WALK! Don’t forget to raise some money and then come out and walk, to support people who can’t get 3 regular meals a day.
The week after that is the Bake Sale! That timing seems a little weird. Still, we need to raise money for our mission trips, too. Please come on out that Sunday after both services (9-10 and 11-12), and help sell baked goods. It would also be cool if you brought some to sell. The Bake Sale is all we are doing for youth group that week; however, if anyone feels like grabbing lunch together at Panera afterwards, I’m in.
I’ve attached a new and improved version of the schedule for the year. There is only one day left that we need to think of an activity for: January 13th. Send me your best ideas. The winner gets custody of our new group mascot, a little bear named Dale. He’s green. You say you haven’t met him yet? You should probably come to youth group. ‘Cause you know …yoothnooz, you lose! 😀
Seriously. Would you send your child to a Youth Group with someone like that in charge? It’s painful. Yet I consider myself hilarious. Which probably makes it worse–such self-deception! And I was so proud when this happened: At the above mentioned Renaissance Faire (about which you will be hearing more in another post, probably), the Sidekick and I were looking at some birds of prey and she said something apparently true, because I responded, with something of a mumble, “For real.” She looked at me sideways and said, “Don’t you mean feather real?” This poor girl has been attending Youth Group under my leadership for four and a half years. I guess she really doesn’t have a chance.
It’s always nice to know one is making a difference.


photo credit CafePress

That is true. Only sometimes it isn’t silent.

It’s no secret that I have kind of a word and language-usage obsession. Someone else wrote in another blog, “As a grammatically conscientious person who frequents internet forums and YouTube, I have found it necessary to develop a few coping mechanisms.” Sadly, I don’t seem to have developed any such mechanisms, and so I still twitch and rant at inappropriate moments, and my Paul has to tell me not to correct the waitress’ pronunciation of Smithwick’s, for example.

It’s just . . . not so much my wanting to be right, as my wanting everyone else to be as right as I am. And I love words and word usage. I just love them . . .

My Paul and I had a kind of lazy rainy Saturday, and at one point that afternoon, he was online on his laptop, and I was reading someone’s self-published novel. After a little back-and-forth between us, my Paul concluded, “I get disgusted about skyrocketing national debt. You get disgusted with misspellings. We have different thresholds for outrage.”

He’s right. But seriously. In just one chapter the author of this book wrote “Pi whole” when he meant “pie hole” and “nube” for “newbie”–many times on the last one. Do you have any idea how annoying it is to read “noob” when it’s supposed to be “newbie”–and “newbie” even looks like what it means? I mean, it does, right? It’s not like some other aspects of the English language that are actually confusing . . . The story, a YA “cyber-fiction” novel, is quite entertaining so far, but I have to say the whole grammar/spelling thing has put me off self-publishing. It’s pretty clear everybody needs another pair of (knowledgeable) eyes to proofread his or her work.

On the other hand . . . I do like messing with words and meanings. Like–recently I’ve been playing this game in my head where I misplace syllable emphases and divisions. I think I first started doing this when one of my parents made some quip about someone putting “the emPHAsis on the wrong sylLAble.” I no longer have any idea what the context of that joke was–it was quite some time ago–but even still I sometimes like to take multisyllabic words and rough them up a little. Then I like to make up new definitions for the mispronunciations.

My favourite one is Acetaminophen. If you pronounce it like, “AHset-AHmen-OHphen,” it sounds like the name of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh. Or, if you take the word linguistics and divide it differently than I did above–say, “LINGui-stics”–well, this summer my Paul and I went into a coffee shop where, instead of the usual earth-friendly-ish wooden coffee stirrers, they had raw linguine with which to stir one’s coffee. I know. The emphasised syllable in linguine is the same as in linguistics, but for some reason “LINGui-stics makes me think of those pasta coffee stirrers.

Okay–now you go. Rough up a word. Then tell us what it means.

Language Peeves – Issue 253

I just made that number up.

I’ve thrown in some pseudo-linguistic asides in a few recent posts, but we haven’t had a good language rant here in a while, have we?

Today’s rant is about the verb to miss. This verb is so improperly used that the other day I myself found myself (yes, that many myselfs) thinking–in one of my imaginary conversations I often have–“I miss not seeing you . . . ”

That would be really awesome as a subtle insult if I were trying to tell my imaginary conversational partner that I can’t stand the sight of his or her face and that when I see it, I feel a wistful longing not to. But everyone uses miss that way, and nobody means that when they say it. Or think it. I didn’t, even. Most people, in my experience, when they say they “miss not-doing” something, mean that they miss doing that thing. I don’t really understand why we talk like this. It’s like adding an extra syllable (orientate instead of simply orient) or prefixing something unnecessarily (why do people say unthaw when they mean thaw?).

When I was studying English Literature in college, I rather prided myself on being able to blab on long enough in an essay question that I could eventually actually make it sound like I knew what I was talking about. (I have no idea if the professors actually saw through this, but I did generally perform quite well on exams–particularly essay ones.) I feel like that’s what we do in English (both sides of the pond) when we talk, sometimes–it’s as if we feel like if we can utter more syllables and bigger words, we’ll sound more intelligent. So we make up nonsense words like unthaw and tell people we miss not talking to them, when what we mean is that we miss talking to them, perhaps very much indeed.

Also, as a mini-rant tagging along, there is a billboard up on the way to work these days which is advertising a wedding expo nearby. The sign boldly announces Wedding Expo in large letters, and in slightly smaller ones, it says, “Huge Gown Sale!”

I can’t really think of a more efficient way to say, “Huge sale on gowns!” but I still can’t stop thinking they’re announcing that they’re selling enormous gowns. Only enormous ones. Like wearable tents, maybe.