Posted by Neal on December 16, 2009
My Aunt Jane has sometimes complained about people saying “No problem” instead of “You’re welcome.” She’s far from alone, but I never really understood what the big deal was. In high school French, they teach you to say de rien, and de nada in high school Spanish, and both of those mean approximately, “It was nothing,” so why is it so bad for English to come up with a similar option? Erin McKean takes up the issue in this installment of “The Word” in The Boston Globe. I’ve pointed to other columns McKean has written for the Globe when Jan Freeman was away, but now she’s got a regular byline over there (as you’ll note in the blogroll). This is great, because now instead of poking around searching for her name there, you can pull up the archives of all the columns she’s written in this space.
Nancy Friedman gets my “You’re so literal” award for the week, with this post on some ad syntax that (we’re sorry) just can’t mean what the copywriters want it to.
From another Nancy who blogs about names, how to find a boy’s name that won’t become a girl’s name in years to come, on Nancy’s Baby Names.
Associated Press is on Twitter, with the handle APStylebook. I’ve never read any of their tweets. I have, however, been following FakeAPStylebook, which puts out several bogus grammar or style tips every day; for example, “The passive voice should be avoided by you,” and “The word ‘totally’ is redundant except when describing how rad something is.”
Now for a couple of items spotlighted by members of the American Dialect Society listserv. First there’s the father who spoke nothing but Klingon to his son for three years until I read this. Then there’s this interactive map showing the popularity of recipe search terms by region. As James Harbeck noted, there’s “a fairly rough hint of an isogloss or two.” This came out near Thanksgiving, so you can find out where stuffing is more prevalent than dressing, and vice versa, along with a lot of other Thanksgiving recipes that apparently are regional favorites.
And last for this batch of links, an AP article on preserving indigenous languages in South America. (Thanks to Karikuy on Twitter on the #linguistics tag for this one.)