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Language

The Great Typo Hunt

Incensed by a “no tresspassing” sign, Jeff Deck launched a cross-country trip to right grammatical wrongs. He enlisted a friend, Benjamin D. Herson, and together they got to work erasing errant quotation marks, rectifying misspellings and cutting unnecessary possessive apostrophes. The Great Typo Hunt is the story of their crusade.

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Support World-Class UK Research Universities

Which of this month’s begging letters from my almae matres more rapidly and effectively earned its place in my bin? Was it the one from Oxford University that began: Dear Mr Counsell Today the defining struggle in the world is between relentless growth and the potential for collaboration. which, if it means anything at all, […]

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Tough Characters

In Web time, this is an ancient (1991) essay, so I don’t feel guilty that I can’t remember who drew my attention to it today: “Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard“. Someone once said that learning Chinese is “a five-year lesson in humility”. I used to think this meant that at the end of five […]

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Single Transferable Mope

I picked up this Prospect blogpost, via the magazine’s twitter feed, where it carried a headline that falls into the Kamm/Rentoul category of “Great Historical Questions To Which The Answer Is ‘No’.“: “Is Afghanistan Obama’s Vietnam?” The article itself doesn’t bother with the question mark, but is a classic of the “another Vietnam” genre, once […]

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“Bringing this agenda towards fruition”

The resignation of Hazel Blears reminded me again that this nation’s government now has a “Department for Communities”. Letting that phrase pass my lips without implied quotation marks would be like vomiting into my mouth without washing it out. Thanks to Kevin Harris’s “neighbourhoods” blog, I can sample a little of that department’s output, a […]

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Position Statement

Tom Freeman doesn’t see the sense in The Times capitalizing the words “Left”, “Right”, and “Centre” when its writers use them to describe political leanings. I think the newspaper is right to do so. Language is a communication channel, and shouldn’t be a fashion accessory or status symbol; however, in this country, more than many […]

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Offensive Language

Harry Windsor is a “thug” for referring to another soldier by the nickname “Paki”, according to Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation, quoted by the BBC. The BBC page links to the Website of that organisation, where Shafiq also claims that the government of Israel is like that of the Nazis. The organization’s Chairman and […]

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How Difficult Can It Be, People?

Millions of Britons are refreshing PooterGeek every other minute in the hope of reading my views on the issue of the moment. I am pleased to bring your wait to an end: it’s “Damian” with an ‘A’, not “Damien” with an ‘E’. Get it right.

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Ooh, That’s A New One

Last year, Newsbiscuit ran a spoof “NEWSPAPERS RUN OUT OF ‘LORD LEVY IS JEWISH’ EUPHEMISMS” story [requires free registration] I was reminded of it when I read this from the latest statement by “the neo-Nazi North German Action Office”, as reported in the Wall Street Journal: Inasmuch as it is a determined opponent of the […]

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USA Gets Black President; BBC Notices Al-Qaeda Racist

Al-Qaeda in Iraq have reacted to the US presidential election by issuing a statement on Friday directed at President-elect Barack Obama and his incoming administration. … [H]ardliners have greeted Barack Obama’s election victory with a stream of racist and other insults. Because, previously, when Al-Qaeda in Iraq referred to Kurdish-speaking bomb victims as “Kuffir to […]

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I Warned Them, But Did They Listen To Me?…

Perhaps you remember my posting about my little sister’s small claims case against Sky. I wasn’t surprised to receive an email from her on Friday informing me that, after months of time-wasting and attempts at legal intimidation by them—don’t get lawyerly with woman who teaches law—she has finally and comprehensively whupped their sorry asses. My […]

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Top Brand

Further to my last post about this, Russell Brand makes a proper apology to camera here. I can think of several politicians (amongst others) who could learn from it. He doesn’t mess about with words like “inappropriate”, which these days is used to describe everything from ironically referencing a passage in the Koran to trying […]

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A Search Engine For Labels For Mental Objects

When you can’t look up something in a dictionary because you don’t know what you’re looking for, even the wordy vastness of the Web is of limited use. This happens to me often (and that’s one of the reasons why I am not a linguistic determinist). Tip Of My Tongue might help though. [via Lifehacker]

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Of Superior Quality

Wongablog has pictures and text from The Super Dictionary, a pedagogical masterpiece stranger than wearing your underpants on the outside of your clothes.

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He Came From Planet Bathos

Some might question my claim to geekhood on the grounds that I have never read Tolkein or Herbert. Frank Herbert’s Dune is frequently described as the best science fiction novel ever. Over the past few weeks I have been reading a little bit more of it every evening before going to sleep. Whatever else it […]

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Trouble At T’ Degree Mill

Another “shocking state of our universities today” story has appeared on the BBC news Website. A report from the Quality Assurance Agency says the degree classification system is broken. I smiled when I read this bit: The reports from the QAA raise some worries about the effectiveness of the external examiner system, in which examiners […]

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King’s English

Burger King’s slogan “HAVE IT YOUR WAY™” really is a Registered Trade Mark. Luckily for those looking for a similar marketing gem to promote their products or services, “IT’S YOUR FUNERAL” and “SUIT YOURSELF” are still available.

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Columnist Sneers At Drunken Fool And Demonstrates His Own Ignorance

It’s been global find-and-replace time again at the nationals over the past couple of days as the columnists check the “Fallen_Hero.dot” Word template out of the their publications’ databases in response to the detention of former football star Paul Gascoigne under the Mental Health Act. They haven’t had to do that since “Bestie” died. The […]

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Generation Gap

You probably didn’t know that the miniature-mace-shaped implement used by a priest in the Roman Catholic church to sprinkle holy water is called an “aspergill” or “aspergillum”. Despite our respective Catholic upbringings and useless fact collecting, neither did I or my dad. But my dad (Jesuit schooling, degree in classics) could quote me the relevant […]

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Sex-Starved African In Steamy Hotel Room Action With Brazilian Maid

Sorry about the silence. I’ve been working hard in Portugal and working hard here. Stevie Wonder says I look just like him in these shades My exact ethnic background isn’t immediately obvious from my appearance. Most Sierra Leoneans would call me “white”; most Brits wouldn’t. To a large fraction of the people on this planet […]

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Pestiferous Rhetoric

R C Metcalf, PhD, knows the erotic power of a polysyllabic adverb and harnesses it to denounce the “diversionary tactics” of public unbelievers, and to, er, divert their attentions to those damned Muslims: The new atheists are a tumescent bunch, unquestionably articulate, yet consummately misguided. Their incendiary rhetoric can’t help but stir the emotions of […]

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On The Preservation Of Source Texts

Yesterday morning, I walked out of the building that my flat is in to find that the telephone box immediately outside it had been marked with words along the lines of: HEY NIGGAZ KKK 4 ME in six-inch high black letters. Today I was going to write a post about it—not an “end of civilization […]

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Dialectical Minimalism

Damian: [T]he impression I get is that Norm is more forgiving of Eagleton’s errors of reasoning than he should be Norm: Damian leaves an impression about my viewpoints that I feel I have a right to comment on. Damian: I’d happily place a bet with Norm on which of the two of them will be […]

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Bald Eagleton

I write short posts. Much goes unsaid. I often write ironically. Some subjects are better approached that way; or it’s just more fun for me to tackle them sideways. What I do say, I say in plain English in the hope that my words at least are clear to everyone who reads them. Reading Norm […]

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Words Like Weapons

Here’s a nice coincidence. Up at The Weekly Standard Website there is a piece by Frederick and Kimberly Kagan about the strategies being used by Coalition forces in the war against terrorists in Iraq. It’s interesting. Kieran Healy at Crooked Timber sneers—on the reasonable grounds that Frederick Kagan is obviously not a disinterested commentator, and […]

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Philosophers: 2 — Scientists: 0

Last Friday I found myself stuck in a room in a Cambridge college waiting to do a photo job so I took Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations down from a shelf and, as an intellectual dwarf perched on Hindsight the Giant, sneered at it. Certain things he said appear absurd in the light of certain experimental […]

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The Whitney of Witney

British Spin fisks Dave’s “comeback” speech: First up, He keeps on with some horribly mixed metaphor. “then, brick by brick, you build your house. That is the plan I laid out when I became leader of this Party and that is exactly the plan we’ve been following. We started by preparing the ground. We stopped […]

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