Monthly Archives: February 2011

Dog Day Afternoon

Firstly: today’s Hooray Language! tidbits:

Only The Alonely

From etymonline:

Distinction of only and alone (now usually in reference to emotional states) is unusual; in many languages the same word serves for both. German also has a distinction in allein/einzig.

Are Those Pants Made Of Demonym?

A demonym is a name for a resident of a particular named place. “American” is a demonym derived from America. “Liverpudlian” is a particularly amusing and well-known irregular demonym of the English city of Liverpool that owes its high level of recognizability to the Beatles. There are at least 19 types of common demonyms used in English, including the well-known “ese” (Japanese), “ian” (Californian), “ish” (Turkish), and “ite” (Vancouverite).

Irregular demonyms include a few obvious ones like the French (France) and the Dutch (Netherlands), as well as Stopfordians (residents of Stockfort, England), Verulamians (residents of St. Albans, England), and Haligonians (residents of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada).

Another demonym of note is Martian – because though Mars is a real place, Martians do not exist. But if they should ever appear there will already be a demonym waiting for them.

Secondly: Remember how I wanted pulled pork at my wedding? Well, the dream lives on. I’ve pretty much decided that it’s complete and full-fledged insanity to make it on my own – that was what I like to call a “pork in the sky” dream. It’s a little amusing to me now that I ever thought I could whip up dozens of pounds of pulled pork for my own wedding.

I mean, sure. I could do it. Pluto could be reaccorded  planetary status after scientists decide they can’t live in a world without our beloved little 9th planet. Sarah Palin could reveal that her entire act has been one long, continuous piece of performance art to win a bet with a friend that the looniest person in America could win a dedicated following of loons.

But really, who wants that kind of stress? And furthermore, why put myself through it when there are a multitude of delicious pork pulleries in the area? So, Jessica and I will be tasting the offerings of Sneaky’s, an underground BBQ spot that’s opening its very own restaurant next week, and Everett & Jones, a classic Berkeley BBQ joint just a few blocks away form our house.

I’ll be sure to report back. Prediction: deliciousness on both counts.

Thirdly: Saturday afternoon, Jessica and I went to a park in Oakland to celebrate our friend Sam’s birthday, and Wynette was given the most precious gift of all: a dog to play with. My pal Leah adopted a fantastic dog named Frannie, an adorable retriever/shar pei rescue dog, and she and Wynette romped the afternoon away in merry doggal fashion.

A few photos from the incomparable Drew Beck:



Hooray Language?

The other day I came dangerously close to starting another blog. Not a replacement for this one, just another one. I even went so far as to register the domain name and put up a few posts in draft form. The blog is called “Hooray Language!” and it’s about the little fascinating little language tidbits I pick up here and there.

For instance, the first post:

Oh Capitonym, My Capitonym

A capitonym is a word that changes meaning when you capitalize (or, conversely, decapitalize) its first letter. Polish and polish come to mind as a common example, as well as Turkey and turkey, and Cancer and cancer.

Wikipedia lists some fairly amusing further examples, like Tangier (the Moroccan city) and tangier (more tangy), and Herb (a dude named Herb) and herb (the herb). The page also gives us a stern warning:

In situations where both words should be capitalized (such as the beginning of a sentence), there will be nothing to distinguish between them except the context in which they are used.

The second post:

The Curious Case Of Case

UPPER CASE and lower case letters are so called because in the early days of moveable type – perhaps as many as 500 years ago – capital letters tended to be kept in the top drawer (the upper case) of printers’ drawers. The smaller letters were kept in the lower cases.

It’s something of a curiosity that I haven’t kept a language blog before. After all, I consider language to be the greatest thing humans have ever pulled off (something to that effect is the tagline for the Hooray Language! blog), I studied linguistics in college for some reason, and I have a deep and abiding love for the little minutiae of language.

Fortunately, only seconds away from clicking the “Publish” button, I forced myself to stop. I already have a blog, I reminded myself, and furthermore it’s one that’s been so needlessly ignored for some time now. In fact, the scrutinizing reader will note, I actually currently have two blogs in various states of neglect, if you include The Jokemakers, which has been on hiatus since November. The girlfriend of one of my Jokemaking brethren recently told me she hadn’t laughed since November 4th, the last time we posted a joke. She wouldn’t go so far as to say that the world at large hasn’t laughed since then, but I knew she was thinking it. I was certainly thinking it.

Heck, we’ve all thunk it.

So, here’s a couple of relatively new one-liners from the tangled comedic chambers of my mind:

“Some people say that amazement preps corn for dinner; I say, awe shucks.”

“I liked Minnesota for awhile until I switched over to two-liters.”

So, there. Like ’em or lump ’em.

Anyway: I’ve left this poor blog to collect e-cobwebs for a little while, and for that I apologize. If any of you readers remain, well, just know that you’re good people. Loyal. Friendly. Kind. Beautiful. Hott. No, that’s not a typo. I meant that second ‘t’ and I meant it hard.

It’s not that wedding planning hasn’t been happening, because it most certainly has. In the past couple weeks, we’ve made some major decisions about our invitations, about clothing for me and the groomsmen, and about food. I’ve started to record music for the recessional, started to research music for the wedding in general. We have a lot to do yet but I’m feeling pretty good about things in general. The knot of dread and stress that is sure to appear at some point along the line hasn’t yet made its way into our throats.

I’ve been busy, sure. Much of my time has been taken up doing two things I don’t want to write about for two completely different reasons, but suffice to say I will be posting about them in the fairly near future and they’re both exciting. Not as exciting as Oprah’s revelation that her half-sister is Lady Gaga or whatever it was that she discovered, but still. One of them has to do with writing, so there’s a clue. Another clue is that they both don’t relate to weddings at all.

We also have this dog, you see, and she’s a handful but holy hell is she cute:

We’ve made major, major strides with her training, especially within the last couple of weeks. I can’t recall if I blogged about this previously, but a little while after we adopted her we had the brilliant idea to look up general traits of American Foxhounds online. Wynette is most likely a foxhound mixed with some German Shepherd and even possibly a dash of beagle, and who knows what else. But her dominant breed does seem to be foxhound, and Wikipedia described her to a T:

The American Foxhound is sweet, kind, loyal, and very loving at a home. As with all hounds they need careful training, constant socialization, and owners who are willing to give them ample exercise: a bored foxhound will find ways to keep themselves entertained and can be very destructive, some examples of destruction include everything from scratching at doors to tearing apart objects including toilet paper, being very rambunctious and, being rather long, they have the ability to take things from counter-tops. […]

Intelligent creatures as they are, many foxhounds quickly learn to open gates or scale small fences to go wandering. While on the hunt the foxhound is a warrior, once a scent is picked up he or she will follow it neglecting any commands. Because their hunting instinct is strong they should never be trusted off-lead. Foxhounds are rarely street safe.

Foxhounds are easy to live with and thrive as members of a family; however, they are not ideal apartment dogs and shouldn’t be left alone indoors for extended periods of time.

That’s pretty much Wynette. But though we’ve read references to foxhounds being largely untrainable, she’s come a long, long way in the two months we’ve had her. She sits most of the time when we tell her to, she pulls less on walks, she’s almost entirely stopped her little nipping habit, and is generally much more responsive.

There’s much to work on yet, especially in the socialization department – she has no idea how to meet other dogs and, sometimes, people. But we have a lot of hope and are very optimistic. She is sweet, cuddly, loyal, and we’ve fallen completely in love with her.

In any case, it’s time to get back to the blog. Oh, it won’t be regular. It may be sporadic. But I’ve missed it, to tell you the truth, just as I’ver missed reading all the other blogs I’ve been neglecting. And for those of you who’ve stuck around, you’re princes among women and princesses among dudes.

Or something.

Love, Bret