Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Organize and humorize

A little tongue-in-cheek (mostly) humorization from The New Yorker:

I say "mostly" because although they used a hyphen in the body of the ad, they don't in the subject line of the email where I saw this.

Update: This is an ad for a desk calendar, in case that isn't clear, oops.

I personally have no problem with -izing nouns, but some folks do ("seemingly lazy application of this custom").

Friday, August 12, 2011

True only if you don't say it about yourself

It's always bugged me, too, this thing where a person or a company takes pains to tell you what they think their virtues are:

  • I'm a classy person.
  • I'm an educated person.
  • I'm a modest person.
  • (Most any reference to "elegant" in a product description.)
  • etc.

Now John Scalzi has coined a term for this: McKean's inversion. He describes it this way:

The adjective a person says they are is frequently the thing they are not.

The name McKean's inversion originates via an indirect route. Erin McKean is a lexicographer (among her other talents) who once stated what's come to be known as McKean's Law: "Any correction of the speech or writing of others will contain at least one grammatical, spelling, or typographical error." Scalzi knows McKean and says he remembers how she once observed that ...

... if someone used the word to describe themselves, it was often quite obvious that they were in fact the opposite.

Thus the inversion. And as noted, McKean's Law was already taken.

It's a little early to tell, but my sense is that this is intended to be used for instances where the person is being a bit clueless. It would therefore not work when they're simply being disingenuous, e.g., "I'm just a humble technical writer." But who knows?

Friday, August 05, 2011

One media to rule them all

Not a surprising neologism in retrospect, but then again, good ones always seem obvious after the fact:

... etc., about 23K hits in all on teh Google. The term seems to be a particular favorite of John Pilger.

Definition? Well, dunno, something like this:

Murdoch's immense political power , which has had successive Prime Ministers dancing attendance on him, and rushing to confer lucrative favors on his News Corporation.
(Thanks to James Galasyn for finding this one.)