Cantankerous commentary on what we speak
and why we speak it, from Bill Brohaugh
Together by the river
Note that the Beatles sang "Come together" and not "Come collectively together." My brain twitched a bit when I heard that phrase on a sportscast (the source of 98% of redundancies, I think--or maybe I just listen to too much baseball). The word "together" implies collection.
And there are plenty of times when you can discard the word "together" in phrases. The words "gather," "assemble" and even "collect" don't need additional help. Their meaning is clear when they, ironically, stand alone.
Or as Patrick Henry so eloquently did not phrase it, "United together we stand, divided apart we fall."
But at least the sportscaster's phrase brought to mind the Beatles classic, and not the (WARNING! GLOPPY SONG MAY ABOUT TO BE PUT IN YOUR HEAD) "United We Stand" oldie recorded by the Brotherhood of Man...
Wear did they come up with this name?
Forgive me for promoting the cliched instead of the almost creative, but shouldn't Google's Android Wear have a more techy name? Specifically, I'm surprised that this combo hardware/software wasn't called "Android Wearware."
Announced this past Tuesday, Android Wear is the system that will allow integration of the upcoming Google smartwatch and other devices, like Google Glass. As google-blogged by Sundar Pichai--SVP, Android, Chrome & Apps:
Just say “Ok Google” to ask questions, like how many calories are in an avocado, what time your flight leaves, and the score of the game. Or say “Ok Google” to get stuff done, like calling a taxi, sending a text, making a restaurant reservation or setting an alarm.
Well then, OK Google, riddle me this:
Wear oh ware has my little dog gone? And Google will promptly tell you wear oh ware he can be.
The unnamed atlas
The Atlas of True Names is an interesting project that ostensibly labels countries, regions and cities not with their current names but with what the names supposedly mean. A snapshot:
From an etymological standpoint, the atlas is a rich source of information, misinformation and tortured information.
Information: Yes, the atlas got it right with . . . well, I've spent the last hour trying to find something on the above map that is unequivocably correct—that isn't wrong, disputed or surreally connected. Mexico means "navel"? "The name Mexico is a word based on the Nahuatl Mexihco, whose meaning is unclear."
Misinformation: No, Mississippi does not mean "father of waters." It means "great river."
Tortured information: "The United States of the Home Ruler"? America is an alteration of Amerigo, the first name of New World explorer Amerigo Vespucci. Amerigo apparently means some variation of "ruler." In this context, so what? The two continents in my home hemisphere were named after a specific person, and not after what that person's name meant. To communicate otherwise is an odd, twisted, multi-layered exercise in etymology that has no place in word histories of any kind.
I invite you to check out Benjamin Zimmer's take on this topic.
Louisville, Lousiville--Potato, Pa-tah-toe
OK, it's not in any way a consequential mistake, but that won't stop the snarkers from doing what they enjoy most. (I should know. I proudly admit to being a snarker myself.) This embarrassingly inconsequential mistake involved a Glenn Beck email touting an event he's hosting in Louisville. Or, as the promotional email spells it, "Lousiville." Anyone paying attention to this transposition likely won't be too concerned about its impact on pronunciation. After all, the way Louisville denizens pronounce the city's name, the "s" is silent and the transposed "i" is barely pronounced at all. Good thing, because the transposition makes it look as if the city's name might be pronounced "Lousy-ville," not in any way an appropriate moniker for a fine city.
Yes, I know that I'm taking this whole discussion to ridiculous, unfounded extremes. Though I wonder if the GPS's voice instruction will direct anyone using the spelling to some little-known international city, or just give directions with the same snippiness I imagine I hear from the GPS when I miss a turn.
Ultimately all this sounds like a job for Marvel's Agents of T.E.A.L. (well, TEAL is real, but not connected with Marvel, of course . . .)
Crimea river, and other modified song lyrics
With Crimea's sucession from Ukraine causing international uproar, L.A. Times opinion writer Michael McGough posits an interesting question. He notes that Scotland may secede from Britain with the Brits apparently going along with the move if the Scots vote thusly, and then writes:
A hypothetical closer to home: What if an American state (Texas? Alaska? Oregon?) decided to hold a referendum on independence, appealing to the principle of “self-determination of peoples” enshrined in the U.N. Charter? Would the federal government be in violation of international law if it suppressed the rebellion? Granted, the U.S. government wouldn't be as tolerant of secession as the UK is. It isn’t just that so much blood was shed in the Civil War to preserve the Union. In 1869, the Supreme Court ruled that the Union was “perpetual” and “indissoluble.” A state can check in, but it can’t check out.
The reference echoing a very popular Eagles song (if indeed that connection was intended) is nicely effective--to a point. The reference unfortunately doesn't bring home the drama and the finality of the song's actual lyric:: "You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave." (I admit that the power of the reference was stunted by the fact that a spiralling guitar solo didn't immediately punctuate McGough's line.)
I also regret the missed opportunity to fully exploit this pop culture touchstone in the well-written op-ed piece. Shouldn't McGough have included one other state among his hypothetical rundown of "Texas? Alaska? Oregon?" The song is, after all, "Hotel California."
And accuracy isn't feeling so good, either
This, from watchmojo.com, is an interesting discussion of Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller's incredible, vastly influential stage drama. Alas, the discussion is flawed, and its accuracy coughs a bit, when the announcer refers to the work as a "novel." Unless they've fixed it by now . . . (editors can perform such magic).