5/10/13 Snoop Doggerel
"It's raining. It's pouring. The old man is snoring."
A silly old rhyme we used to chant as kids. I don't recall ever hearing it out of the mouths of adults. Where did it come from? Is this little bit of doggerel passed on from one generation to the next within the child community, as it were? I wonder. Just like, "Hey, Joe. Waddaya know? I just got back from the rodeo show."
doggerel (DAW ger-rul) noun, Verse of a loose, irregular rhythm or of a trivial nature.
A favorite use of the word was a description of rap music being rhythmic doggerel. I suppose you could say the same thing about a lot of pop music. Anyway, nothing more to add. Just an entry of a trivial nature. A rainy day activity of my own.
12/4/12 Fauxcabulary Word #7
If you've visited terrycolon.com before you may notice things are a little different. The navigation matrix has been redone. But still with all the fun, or annoying, bells and whistles you've come to enjoy, or bemoan, as before. Whether this improves your interweb browsing experience or not is debatable. I just hope the change is not a...
dimprovement (dim PROOV ment) noun. An improvement that makes something worse.
I have heard the Germans already have a word for a bad improvement, schlimmerverbesserung. Though some say it's not a real word. Whether my made-up word dimprovement is an improvement over the possibly made-up schlimmerverbesserung is another question. Maybe one not worth answering.
10/2/12 Can a Loop Not Have a Hole?
You likely know what a legal loophole is. It's pretty much a way to evade a law legally. Slip through the cracks, as it were. But why is this called a loophole? Where did that come from? One might guess a lasso has a loop which defines a hole. You use a lasso to catch animals. If the animal slips through the lasso's loop, its hole, the animal escapes capture. Or if a loop has a gap, a hole, it won't work. Is that how loophole got its meaning? Makes sense, sort-of. But that's not it. Which only shows how good guessing is.
If you are familiar with military history or castles you might know what else a loophole is. It's a small opening in a castle wall, fortification, or bulwark, usually a vertical slit or cross-shaped, from which a defending archer or crossbowman can shoot at attackers.
Now we have another possible explanation. A loophole is a small opening in an otherwise impregnable wall through which, if you could squeeze through, you can defeat the wall. That's where the term legal loophole comes from. It's a simile. Or is it an allusion? Whatever it is it's a gap in the defense. A chink in the armor. (A phrase harkening back to days of loopholes, appropriately enough.)
Now then, most actual castle loopholes were much too small for a man to squeeze through. You'd have to be pretty slippery, able to contort yourself to extremes to weasel your way through one. Sounds like a lawyer to me.
9/7/12 Fauxcabulary Word # 6
Here's how to know your mindset has been taken over by the computer age. You're doing something away from your computer, and you make a mistake, and the first thing that comes to mind is "hit command undo". Needless to say there is no command undo when you spill your drink or say something really stupid. Be nice if there were. Anyway, there's a word for that. Or at least I'm coining one right here, right now.
und’oh (un d-OH) noun, The impulse to hit "command undo" whenever you make a mistake, then realizing you're not working on your computer and that won't work.
3/19/12 Why There are no More Depressions Even Though There are
Words change meanings from time to time. Slang often throws a monkey wrench into the linguistic works. Euphemisms also can do the trick. Sometimes words morph into a similar meanings away from their original meanings.
Take the words recession and depression, for instance. In the past the word recession described the period when the economy declined. The lull in the middle was the bottom. Recovery was when the economy went up to where it was when the recession started. The three parts together, recession-bottom-recovery were a depression.
You can visualize it as a depression on a graph. If this were a cross-section of a landscape there is a section that looks like a dip down, a depression in the ground. If this were a graph of the economy where there was a recession-bottom-recovery it looks like… a depression. I don't know when they started calling them depressions, but you can see how the word fits.
This changed some time after the Great Depression. The powers that be are desperate to avoid another Great Depression, or any depression no matter how mild or not. There are still recession-bottom-recovery episodes, they just stopped calling them depressions and started calling them recessions.
I guess that's one way to avoid a depression, call it something else. That may seem like a load of crap, but not if you call it a unit of feces.
1/27/12 More Fauxcabulary Words
People generally speak differently depending who they talk to. At work you use industry jargon. At the bar with your buds you curse like a sailor. At a family gathering you don't curse like a sailor. Unless maybe you come from a family of salty-talking sailors. The point is, our speech is flexible, we adjust for who, when and where. For this I have coined some bits of fauxcabulary...
flexicon (FLEKS e-kon) noun, words one uses tailored to the audience or social setting.
Within our flexicon there are any number of subsets. Following my usual formula of combining two words into a single portmanteau word, here are a few more using synonyms for lexicon like lingo, argot, and patios. Here are but a few.
gobble-degeek (GAH bul dee geek), tech terms you sort-of know used to impress people who don't know.
Texicon (TEK se kon), words used to sound like a Texan, y'all.
ar-r-rgot (ARRR go), words used to sound like a pirate, ye matie.
phatois (fah TWA), words used to sound like a gansta, dog.
badda-balingo (bah dah bah LIN-go), words used to sound like an Italian gangster, capice?
libberish (LIH-ber ish), politically correct terms used in politically correct society.
bluephemism (BLOO fem iz-um), substitute term for a sexual act or naughty bit. Sometimes more polite versions, sometimes more raunchy. 'Naughty bit' is an example of the former, an example of the latter I leave to your imagination.
brocabulary (bro KAB yoo lar-ree), words used among male friends. Often as not a lot of bluephemisms and no libberish.
hocabulary (ho KAB yoo lar-ree), female version of brocabulary.
That's all I got. Yar, I'm out, y'all fuggitabouddit.
12/19/11 Bloody Mess
shambles (SHAM bulz) noun. 1. a place of great disorder. 2. a place where animals are brought to be slaughtered. 3. any place of slaughter or carnage.
I don't imagine folks use definition two or three much anymore. The bloodletting seems to have gone out of the word. A battlefield would be a shambles, though it's rarely described as such. A slaughterhouse would be a shambles, but I can't remember anyone calling one that. If anything they'll substitute the word abatoir for slaughterhouse. French words just seem more pleasing to the ear somehow.
What's a little odd, it looks like a plural form of shamble with an 'S' though it's singular, a shambles. The word shamble is something else altogether. It means to walk in an awkward, usteady manner, shuffling the feet. Though I've never heard anyone use the word shamble.
You probably shouldn't call something a bloody shambles. That's redundant. Then again, if a slaughter house was hit by a tornado then the shambles would be a shambles. A bull in a china shop might leave it a shambles. A bull in a shambles… that's another story.
10/26/11 Charting Trends. Or Not.
chartmanship (CHART man ship) noun. Creating factually correct charts which are deliberately misleading. Sophistry and propaganda in graph form.
The facts are the facts. Or so they say. Yet the facts can be misleading depending how they are presented. This is especially true with charts. Charts can be made deceptive by how the maker shows the scales of time and degree and whatnot.
Here's how it works. Below are two charts showing the same thing. In the first case the degree of change is set in a range from minus ten to ten, the second from minus one hundred to one hundred. The first chart shows big changes, the second a nearly flat line.
Which is better? Hard to say without knowing if the one degree change is significant or not. One chart suggests it is, the other that it isn't. But you don't know unless the significance, or lack of it, is explained.
Here's a second way to manipulate the data. Take the first chart from above and show different time frames. The first chart starts in 1900, it goes up, then down, then up back where it started. The second starts in 1975 and shows things only going up.
Which is better? Do we have trends or what? Hard to say without knowing what makes a trend. For instance what if the chart went back even farther to 1600? In this case what looks like an upward trend in one chart looks like just an upward section of an oscillation in the other.
That's the thing about charts. Even when accurate they can deceive. That's chartmanship. It's sort-of like cropping a picture to eliminate the bad bits and keep the appealing bits. What's left is accurate, but the picture is incomplete.
7/19/11 Come Ben. This is… Och… What’s-his-name.
tartle (TAR tel) verb. The act of hesitating while introducing someone because you've forgotten their name. (Scottish)
Bet you didn't know there was a word for that. Though maybe outside of Scotland there isn't. Scot's say things other English speakers don't. It's a Gaelic thing. And even when they use English words they might not sound the same what with that brogue.
To American ears a thick Scottish brogue almost sounds like a foreign language. I once saw a movie about Cockney and working class Scots subtitled in English, even though they were speaking English. As an old bit in National Lampoon had it, "Scottish attempts at speaking English have been a source of amusement for centuries."
I had a friend who's father was from Dundee and sometimes you couldn't understand some of the things he said. Even his kids occasionally had a hard time with his accent. I remember once his wife couldn't decipher the way he said "terrible". And she was from Scotland. Though she was a Highlander and he was a lowlander.
Now then, about the only Scots I know is Auld Lang Sine. Which, if you follow the lyrics, brings us back to where we started. "Should old acquaintance be forgot… tartle."
5/4/11 In Case of Gauls, Sound Money
Many a word has a backstory, a derivation with a tale attached. Many words come from other languages, like Greek or Latin. The word money fits both criteria.
A couple millennia ago the Romans built a lavish temple to honor their patroness Juno, wife of Jupiter. Located inside Capitolium, the citadel atop a hill, the temple doubled as the mint where coins were struck. In the garden around the temple lived the sacred geese of Juno.
One year the Gauls besieged Rome whose inhabitants took refuge in the Capitolium. The raiders tried to sneak up an unguarded steep approach, but the geese's honking sounded the alarm and the citadel was saved.
The Romans gave thanks to their patroness Juno and thereafter called her Juno Moneta, "Juno the Warner". Because the coins of Rome were minted in the temple of Juno Moneta, people called them 'money'.
I guess that might make money a warning. Though it's lack of money that's alarming. Anyway, that's where the word money comes from.
4/5/11 Far Further
What's the difference between farther and further? Are they interchangeable?
The distinction is fairly simple. When talking about a physical distance use farther. When talking about a non-physical or metaphorical amount or degree use further.
For instance, Arizona is farther west than Arkansas. On the other hand, Arizona is further in debt than Arkansas.
However, the opposite of both farther and further is closer. Arizona is closer to California in distance and closer to bankruptcy than Arkansas.
Since the word closer can be both physical and metaphorical we can use it to form a…
syllepsis (sil LEP sis) noun. The use of a word with the same syntactic relation to two adjacent words, in a literal sense with one and a metaphorical sense with the other.
Arizona is closer to California and bankruptcy than Arkansas.
Furthermore, closer is a heteronym. That's two words spelled the same with different meanings and pronunciations. Closer (KLO ser) meaning nearer. Closer (KLO zer) meaning something that shuts a door or lid, or a relief pitcher in baseball.