Sunday, April 19, 2020

Lex Machine

Daze of the week.

She Blinded Me with Sciencing

usage, language change, verbs

“Am I just an old fogy or can any noun be turned into a verb these days?” a reader asks Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman of Grammarphobia. The verbed nouns in question here are internet and science.

If you’ve read Gretchen McCulloch’s Because Internet (and if you haven’t, you should), this is a small glimpse into one of the vectors of language change she discusses.

Fruit of the Zoom

onomastics, brand names

With so many people working from home, videoconferencing companies are on the rise. And the undisputed king right now is Zoom. Zoom has become so ubiquitous these days that the brand name is well on its way to genericization. Nancy Friedman took a closer look at the word zoom this week — from online meetings to Mazda commercials to 1970s kids TV — over at Fritinancy this week in "Corona Brands: Zoom."

All Tied Up in a So


You probably recognize the word so as the last element in FANBOYS, the mnemonic to remember the coordinating conjunctions. But like so many small words, so can be a number of different parts of speech. June Casagrande (The Joy of Syntax) takes a closer look at how the word appeared in one particularly awkward CNN headline for the L.A. Times in "The Word 'So' Is So Confusing." (Paywall)

Podcasting a Wide Net

podcast, etymology

For John McWhorter’s 100th episode of Lexicon Valley, "The Many Meanings of Too," he takes listeners on a short etymological exploration of practically every word in a few lines if a 1940 recording of the song “Rubber Doll,” which I had never heard of until this episode. I won’t be adding “Rubber Doll” to my playlist anytime soon, but the podcast is worth a listen if you’re a logophile.

My Up Runneth Over

British English, idioms

I learned this week from Separated by a Common Language’s Lynne Murphy that the idiom “on the up and up” has a slightly different meaning in American and British English. “It looks like it’s probably a case of an American phrase coming to Britain and being re-interpreted,” Murphy writes.

Just Another Manic, Um, Thursday?

self-promotion, etymology

With all my time being spent at home in isolation, and not a lot of variety to mark the passage of time, I find I’m having to think harder to remember what day of the week it is. And that’s the moderately true way I segued into an article about the etymology of the days’ names in this week’s In a Word column, “My Gods! What Day Is It?