Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Where oh where can they be ?

Where can i get a good deal on my next magic carpet ?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I'm not dead

And I will prove it by handing out some useless/precious facts (I'm going from memory here and not checking the facts, so beware):

I grew up saying "kitty-corner" to describe two items diagonally opposed from each other. When I was in high school, I heard a teacher refer to two such items as "catty-corner." This sounded absolutely ridiculous (see also, "Duck, Duck, Goose"). Everyone knows what a kitty is, but what on earth is a catty?

Further research showed, however, that "catty-corner" is the older form of this expression. The "catty" has nothing to do with cats, but is descended ultimately from the French quatre, pronounced by Americans as "cater," whence "catty" and finally "kitty." Quatre means four, particularly in America as in the square of dots on the four side of a die; the expression cater-corner thus implies the relationship between opposite corners of the square. No folk-etymologies about how cats tend to ignore straight lines and walk in diagonals are needed!

This example illustrates a principle of historical linguistics which has application in many fields, like Textual Criticism, for example: the more difficult variant is more likely to be original. My teacher's "catty-corner" was more opaque than my "kitty-corner"; it seemed to be composed of a meaningless element and a meaningful one. My intuition was to hold my pronunciation as original, because both elements of the compound were meaningful, but my intuitions were wrong.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

whY - oh whY ?

and once again we have to ask: whY has Chaka died?


oh, i mean um, whY has Ask Chaka died again?

- sorry for the dramatic confussion to all of yoU that thought Chaka actually died there for a second.