Instant Message Excerpts: On Being a Network Engineer, 18, part 2

| October 10, 2012

Not long after the earlier conversation, a followup from my teammate. Biff(4:34:42 PM): you were serious? Russ(4:34:58 PM): about…? Biff(4:35:25 PM): about learning Latin, I mean. want to be a priest? Russ(4:35:33 PM): heh. not hardly Russ(4:35:59 PM): I’ve always been a linguist at heart. Russ(4:36:07 PM): And I love the classics Russ(4:36:26 PM): I’d […]

Language Peeve of the Week

| August 3, 2012

Heard on a cooking show: “I’ll start making the O Juice.” Grrrr. “Au jus” is French, meaning “with [its own] juice.” You cannot prepare au jus. You can prepare jus, which then goes au the prime rib. Got it?

Quote of the Day

| January 5, 2012

Ace, and the magic of language: From Triumph To Triumph: California Board Puts Kibosh On High-Rail Boondoggle, As Economically Retarded Their word. They actually said that. The report really said, “economically retarded.” No it didn’t. But in that one moment of doubt, a million possibilities existed. I created those possibilities. You’re welcome. Positively lyrical, that.

Our Humpty Dumpty President

| October 14, 2011

Apropos of my previous post, yes, I really do think Obama speaks in capital letters; doing so allows him — as with, for instance, the title of a piece of legislation — to apply whatever meaning he wants. “Rich” doesn’t necessarily mean “rich”; “Fair Share” most assuredly doesn’t mean “fair share.” “When I use a […]

Obama, the Vocabulary President

| August 1, 2011

Given the sheer volume of verbiage recently emanating from Washington DC in general and the, shall we say, unique usages coming from the White House in particular, I thought it might be helpful to have a glossary of some of the words and phrases commonly in use by the administration and on certain parts of […]

I am not just “allegedly” annoyed.

| January 24, 2011

Look, can we all, for the love of God, stop saying “alleged” about Tucson lunatic Jared Loughner? It would be a mere allegation if there existed any doubt as to whether he had been the killer. If, for instance, the shooter had fled the scene and been caught after the fact. In this case, though, […]


| May 14, 2010

Prior to the Civil War, the usual usage when referring to the nation as a whole was “the United States are….” Since the Civil War, “United States” has been treated linguistically as singular: “the United States is….” Given the to-do over Arizona’s immigration enforcement law, as well as the incipient revolt of a number of […]

A Few Pet Peeves

| December 14, 2009

Sometimes I hear or read something that strikes me as an appalling failure of education. Having always had an affinity for language, certain misuses grate hard on me. I know, I know — you’re thinking “Russ, you’re such a relaxed and easygoing guy, how could anything trivial bother you?” Good point, but there are indeed […]

Word of the Day

| June 29, 2009

The English language is generally more flexible and expressive than most, but the German language has a lot of great words for concepts that are harder to describe in English. My recent favorite: Backpfeifengesicht: a face badly in need of a fist. Other examples of great German words include schadenfreude and schwerpunkt.

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