EppsNet Archive: Language

The 12th Man

17 Feb 2014 /
CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks

The home crowd of the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks is known as The 12th Man. Isn’t this awfully sexist? Doesn’t it marginalize female Seahawk fans? Wouldn’t The 12th Person be a more appropriate appellation?

I’m surprised there isn’t more outrage over this. It seems like the kind of thing that someone should be really bent out of shape about.


More Words and Phrases I’m Sick Unto Death Of

11 Nov 2013 /

How big was it?

English: at the 2009 NLCS.

Sports media goofball

The go-to question for lazy sports media goofballs everywhere. How big was that game? How big was that performance? How big was that play?

In case you hadn’t noticed, the word “big” doesn’t make sense in this context. How big was it? It was bigger than a breadbox. It was bigger than my dick.

“Let me ask you about the most important play of the game. How important was it?” That’s just stupid. But it’s acceptable if you phrase it like this: “How big was the interception by Kozlowski?” Use of the word “big” is the agreed-upon protocol for asking stupid questions repeatedly.

“Tell us something we already know about something we just saw” is okay if phrased as “How big was that performance tonight by Smithers?” Or “How big was this win?”

If all you can do is ask stupid questions, at least phrase them in a way that makes sense. “Tell me about the interception by Kozlowski.” Or “What’s your opinion of Kingman’s performance?”

Better yet, do your job and ask questions with insight and context, e.g., “It looked like you changed up the coverage on the Kozlowski interception. Can you talk about that?”


Minimizing Retention

4 Aug 2013 /

From an actual job description for a Software Development Manager:

  • Worth with management and directs to put together a solid SW Development career development plan in alignment with Organization Solutions all-up to grow hi-potential employees and minimize retention.

If you’re writing job descriptions and learning English at the same time, there’s no shame in having a native speaker review your work.

The job description goes on like that for 10 or 12 more bullet points. I singled that one out because I like the phrase “minimize retention.” I can recommend a couple of people for that.

I assume it’s a language problem in this case — that the author meant to say “maximize retention” or “minimize turnover” — but it might be a kick to have a job where your actual charter is to minimize retention.

You would not be an easy person to work for. You would take all the credit. Your subordinates would get all of the blame.

Picture having the names of all staff members written on a whiteboard in your office and removing them one by one with a triumphant swipe of your eraser at the end of their (hopefully brief) tenure.

Maybe your boss would stop by every now and again to tap on a name and ask, “Why is that guy still here?”

Of course, if some clinging vine is screwing up your retention rate by refusing to quit (maybe he really needs the job?), you can just call him in and fire him. Or her.

Good times! If only all job objectives were this easy to meet.

Thus spoke The Programmer.


If Grateful Dead fans are Deadheads, what are fans of Philip K. Dick?

Posted by on 1 Aug 2013

I’d rather be a friend in need than a palindrome.

Posted by on 1 Jul 2013

Word of the Day

14 May 2013 /

so·te·ri·ol·o·gy \suh-teer-ee-ol-uh-jee\, noun:

  1. spiritual salvation, esp. by divine agency.
  2. the branch of theology dealing with this.

More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of

17 Feb 2013 /

Recruiters who write job descriptions with requirements like this:

  • Great Communication – must be able to speak very clear

Screw Economics

23 Jan 2013 /

One of the classes I’m taking on Coursera is Principles of Economics for Scientists, taught by Prof. Antonio Rangel at Cal Tech.

First of all, it’s a great class. Rangel has a real passion for the material and he’s provided extra resources to accomodate online students, many of whom probably don’t have the math background of the average Cal Tech student.

He’s from Madrid, so his pronunciations and mannerisms are different, like the gesture below, which I captured from one of the video lectures.

Prof. Antonio Rangel

He was explaining how something or other would increase our understanding of economics and he punctuated the word “understanding” by pointing at his head with two fingers. I don’t know what this gesture means in Spain, or if it means anything at all. Probably he knows what it means in America, but as I said, he’s passionate about the material and I think he loses himself in what he’s saying.

He’s also one of the only two people I know who pronounce the word “subsequent” as sub-SEEK-went, the other being one of my work colleagues, who’s actually from this country and therefore has no excuse . . .


Language Poetry and Aleatory Poetry

16 Nov 2012 /

The last couple of weeks in ModPo, we’ve been reading “Language Poetry” and aleatory poetry, including the work of Ron Silliman, Lyn Hejinian, Bob Perelman, Charles Bernstein, Jackson Mac Low, Jena Osman and Joan Retallack.

I have to admit it all seemed lazy to me. The reader has to do all the work. (See below for a differing opinion.) I didn’t like any of the poems enough to share one, so here instead are the lyrics to Randy Newman‘s “Marie”:

Randy Newman at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritag...

Randy Newman at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You looked like a princess the night we met
With your hair piled up high
I will never forget
I’m drunk right now baby
But I’ve got to be
Or I never could tell you
What you meant to me

I loved you the first time I saw you
And I always will love you Marie
I loved you the first time I saw you
And I always will love you Marie

You’re the song that the trees sing when the wind blows
You’re a flower, you’re a river, you’re a rainbow

Sometimes I’m crazy
But I guess you know
And I’m weak and I’m lazy
And I’ve hurt you so
And I don’t listen to a word you say
When you’re in trouble I just turn away
But I love you

I loved you the first time I saw you
And I always will love you Marie
I loved you the first time I saw you
And I always will love you Marie

If that isn’t poetry, I don’t know what is.

Here’s what ModPo professor Al Filreis says about aleatory poetry:

So this kind of writing, I want to emphasize, has rigor and it has intention at the level of design. It’s not easy, it’s not facile and it’s not to be confused with improvisation and indeterminacy and even random or arbitrary are the wrong words to describe it. Many, as I’ve said, resist it. Many find no beauty in it. . . . Why should I waste my time, it doesn’t mean anything. Well, I have so many things to say in response to that and gosh, I’m not even sure where to start, but I’ll give it a try.

Well, here’s one thing: when I think about how much of my time I spend, my own time, how much time I spend and waste really, watching and listening to things that make a whole lot of conventional sense but ultimately don’t mean anything. Where normally meant statements are empty and useless and unbeautiful, I figure that I owe it to those who seek a significant alternative, the time of day. Maybe they’re telling me to relax. Maybe they’re telling me let down my guard. I’m always, I seem to be always on guard for meaning in meaninglessness. Maybe I should let down that guard and maybe I should hear the music in the apparent dissonance and discordance of my world. And maybe the discovery of sense in language that was not intended at the level of the sentence or of the phrase makes that sense all the more powerful. And maybe when words formed through quasi non-intentional chance operations produce something “accidentally” lovely (I’ve got air quotes around the word accidentally), when that loveliness is accidental, I’ll be all the more astonished at the beauty that’s just out there, that’s ambient in our language and just waiting to be rearranged.


Boost Your Word Power with EppsNet!

12 Nov 2012 /

Here’s a pet peeve of mine . . .

“Unique” means “one of a kind.” So it’s not correct to describe something as being “very unique,” “quite unique,” “rather unique” . . . it’s either unique or it isn’t.

Yeah, I know everyone does it but it’s still wrong. Instead, try using “unusual” or “uncommon” or “out of the ordinary” or “atypical” or “rare.”

Thank you . . .


Pleonasm of the Day: Offended Muslims

13 Sep 2012 /
Thomas Jefferson

ple·o·nasm, noun

  1. the use of more words than are necessary to express an idea; redundancy.
  2. an instance of this, as free gift or true fact.

My fellow Americans –

U.S. embassies in Egypt, Libya and Yemen have been attacked by Muslims offended by a YouTube video.

“Offended Muslims” — there’s a pleonasm for you!

The embassy in Egypt, hoping to pacify the attackers, issued a statement opposing “continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”

DISAGREE! We should be APPLAUDING efforts to offend religious believers. We should be STEPPING UP efforts to offend religious believers.

My friends and I risked everything — including our lives, that’s how important it was to us — to ensure that Americans could speak their minds without interference from government.

Religion is all horseshit anyway. There’s no God. There’s no Allah. It’s all a bunch of made-up bullshit. Fairy tales!

As John Lennon — an Englishman, but otherwise a good bloke — used to say: Imagine no religion . . .


More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of

16 Aug 2012 /

I’m going to savagely murder the next person I hear use the word “spend” as a noun, as in “leveraging our spend.”

Spend is a verb. Spending is a noun, e.g., “leveraging our spending.” I would still have to maim you for saying “leveraging” though, so try “getting the most for our money.”

You can also avoid death by saying “How much does it cost?” instead of “What is our spend?”

You have been warned.


You, Me and Him

1 Jul 2012 /

I am sparkling. You are unusually talkative. He is drunk.

Tags:

You, Me and Him

28 Jun 2012 /

I daydream. You’re an escapist. He ought to see a psychiatrist.

Tags:

As the Crow Flies

27 Feb 2012 /
Crow

Let me tell you something about crows: Sometimes they fly in a big circle. Sometimes they fly every which way.

Whoever invented “as the crow flies” to mean “in a straight line” must have never seen an actual crow . . .


Overheard at a Software Demo

12 Jan 2012 /

“Look at it, feel it, play with it . . . that will quelch your fears.”


Basically Done

9 Dec 2011 /

One of our contract programmers tells me that his current project is “basically done.”

“It’s done or it’s basically done?” I ask.

“It’s done. Amanda is testing it.”

“How do you know it’s done if she’s still testing it?”

“All the tickets are closed except one, so it’s basically done.”

“I don’t mean to give you a hard time. I’m trying to figure out if there’s a difference between ‘basically done’ and ‘done.’ Because usually there is. I inherited a project here last year that when I got it, it was ‘basically done,’ except it needed some more testing. I put one of my best guys on it and he was still working on it a year later when it was finally cancelled. It took a year to go from ‘basically done’ to cancelled. Hence my lack of fondness for hearing projects described as ‘basically done.’”

Notes for next team meeting: Effective immediately, we’re not going to describe any task as being “basically done,” “pretty much done,” or my personal favorite, “done — it just needs a little more testing.” (Isn’t that what testing is for — to find out if it’s done?)

We’ll classify things as either Done or Not Done. If it’s not done, we should be able to say what has to happen in order for it to be done.

Thus spoke The Programmer.


More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of

28 Sep 2011 /

Anyone who uses the word “surface” to mean “put forward for consideration,” e.g., “I’d like to surface a topic.”

If you must use “surface” as a verb, I’m okay with you surfacing a driveway or surfacing a submarine, but if you’re going around surfacing topics, then you really need to leave the world immediately . . .


What is most easily put into words is not necessarily what is most important.

Posted by on 13 Sep 2011

If you’re fat, don’t say you “work out,” just say you “exercise.”

Posted by on 10 Jul 2011

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