Sunday, October 29, 2006

Elsewhere in the Ist-a-verse

Here'a blog post (note their clever title, which I lift wholesale) that I can practically just to link to and say "Look, English on the march." The city blog Seattlest, which comments wryly on the goings-on-about-town[1] (town here being Seattle, I prolly should not need to add), does a nice roundup of similarly themed blogs from other metropolises, linking to the following:

Austinist, Torontoist, DCist, Parisist, Phillyist, Londonist, Chicagoist, LAist, Gothamist, Bostonist, SFist, and Sampaist.

Although I don't think it's really needed, I'll provide some thin value-add for y'all, to wit:

  • What's the exact semantic of -ist? Perusing the menu of meanings offered by AHD, we might select:
    2. A specialist in a specified art, science, or skill: biologist.
    The art, science, or skill here being "place where I reside," I guess. Or maybe:
    4. One that is characterized by a specified trait or quality: romanticist.
    Wherein the respective authors are characterized by their place of residence. Hmm.
  • Of the blogs in the ist-a-verse, only Seattle's ends in -est; the others all in -ist. What's the rule here? Is it phonological? (Doesn't seem like it.) An orthographical thing? (Maybe Seattlist looks too much like a site you could browse for used tools, jobs, and alternative mating options.)
  • Pronunciation would not appear to be the primary focus of at least one of these. How would you say SFist, anyway?
  • And hey, how about that ist-a-verse term, anyway? A bonus neologism that exercises the -verse morpheme for us.

Should I have named this blog EvolvingEnglishist?

[Update 7 Nov 2006 I emailed the folks at to ask them whence their name. Turns out that the names and were already taken. Dan Gonsiorowski told me of Seattlest "Whatever, we love it. We're the est of the ists." There you go: mostly a commercial issue, only incidentally a linguistic one. Probably not the first time that's happened, eh?

[1] Or as your mother-in-laws and those attorney-generals might say, the going-on-about-towns, haha.


Anonymous said...

>Of the blogs in the ist-a-verse,
>only Seattle's ends in -est; the
>others all in -ist. What's the rule here?

I think it's because 'Seattle' ends in 'e'...and they've only added the 'st' to create the name; for the other cities they cover that end in a vowel, the results of adding just an 'st' would be weird, no? Viz:

Torontoist = Torontost
Phillyist = Phillyst (sounds like something new from Betty Crocker)
Chicagoist = Chicagost

with two especially egregious examples:

LAist = LAst (ha!)
Sampaist = Sampast (sounds like they'd be covering what happened there _last week_)

You oughta drop the Seattlest folks a line and see if there was a guiding principle...

Anonymous said...

>Of the blogs in the ist-a-verse, only Seattle's ends in -est; the
>others all in -ist. What's the rule here?

Two things at work, I think:

1) These city-specific sites weren't created all at once; I knew about Gothamist long before any of the others.

2) I think, when it came to Seattle, they just add a 'st' onto 'Seattle'. For all of the other cities they cover that end in vowels, this'd be weird:

Torontoist = Torontost
Phillyist = Phillyst
Chicagoist = Chicagost

and two would be egregious:

LAist = LAst (ha!)
Sampaist = Sampast (they'd have to only cover last week's goings-on)

You ought to holler at the Seattlest folks and ask if there was a method to the madness.

WordzGuy said...

Excellent analsys, Dr. Seth. It also occurred to me that it could be a superlative -- the Seattlest blog of them all. Not likely, but hey.

As for contacting them, you know darn well that we rarely do any actual research around here. :-)

Anonymous said...

You do find the most interesting things in the world of words, wordZguy. I selected Gandalfe with the 'olde English trailing e' because Gandalf was already taken. Now ten years later, there are many people using it--it is no longer unique.

My other handle JaAG used to be unique and now is usually not available on new forums that I sign up for. Sigh. I'm loath to become JaAG012938493.