Tuesday, November 29, 2005


A shout out from where?

I've been surprised twice today by the quality of the writing appearing in the usage notes of the The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. I think of dictionaries as utilitarian and, thus, don't expect to find pretty prose therein. Instead I found interesting passages that I'd be tempted to describe as melodious or even mellifluous. Admittedly, my literary diet has been a bit bland lately, composed of mostly news articles and technical material; perhaps this has left my pallet askew. What do you think? Feel free to tell me that I need to get out more.

From the entry for whence:

The construction from whence has been criticized as redundant since the 18th century. It is true that whence incorporates the sense of from: a remote village, whence little news reached the wider world. But from whence has been used steadily by reputable writers since the 14th century, most notably in the King James Bible: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help” (Psalms). Such a respectable precedent makes it difficult to label the construction as incorrect. Still, it may be observed that whence (like thence) is most often used nowadays to impart an archaic or highly formal tone to a passage, and that this effect is probably better realized if the archaic syntax of the word—without from—is preserved as well.

From the entry for kudos:

Kudos is one of those words like congeries that look like plurals but are etymologically singular. Acknowledging the Greek history of the term requires Kudos is (not are) due her for her brilliant work on the score. But kudos has often been treated as a plural, especially in the popular press, as in She received many kudos for her work. This plural use has given rise to the singular form kudo. These innovations follow the pattern whereby the English words pea and cherry were shortened from nouns ending in an (s) sound (English pease and French cerise), that were mistakenly thought to be plural. The singular kudo remains far less common than the plural use; both are often viewed as incorrect in more formal contexts. It is worth noting that even people who are careful to treat kudos only as a singular often pronounce it as if it were a plural. Etymology would require that the final consonant be pronounced as a voiceless (s), as we do in pathos, another word derived from Greek, rather than as a voiced (z).

What more could you ask for in a passage? It's got conflict, history, a grammar lesson, etymology, and resolution. I'd like to offer a kudo to the pen of the dictionary O. Henry from whence these word nerd short stories flowed.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Lopsided Poll

CNN.com is currently taking a poll asking, "Is the U.S. government doing enough to reduce the nation’s dependence on oil?" The current results are some of the most lopsided I've ever seen in a response set of 100,000. Fewer than 4,000 (i.e., 4%) answered affirmatively.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Holy Scoopage, Batman!

BoingBoing, a blog with international reach and a flavor somewhat like Slashdot mixed with Fark, posted about a mountain lion chasing a housecat up a power pole and being electrocuted about 12 hours before the local paper, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, ran an article on the same story.


MSRP for 2006 Prius Announced

The MSRP for the 2006 Toyota Prius will be $21,725, an increase of $450 over the 2005. Remember that for at least the first six months of 2006, you can get a tax credit, not deduction, of at least $2,750 for purchasing a new Prius, making the real cost of the base '06 Prius $18,975.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


The Housing Market Has Peaked

Chris Farrell of Marketplace Money claimed in last week's show that "the housing market has peaked." He went on to say that he thinks the market will "cool, but not collapse" and that the predicted trend will see the market remaining subdued for 5 to 7 years.


Quote o' the Day

Lewis Libby's lawyer says:
In pleading not guilty, he has declared to the world that he is innocent
Wow. I'll bet that at however many hundreds of dollars per hour Theodore V. Wells Jr. charges that tautologic gem cost Mr. Libby almost a ten spot.

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