Friday, March 24, 2017

“Short Order Menus”

Not from Shirley May’s. It’s from a used-book store find:

[Linotype Keyboard Operation (Brooklyn: Mergenthaler Linotype Company, 1930). Click for a larger view.]

Zippy’s Shirley May’s

[Zippy, March 24, 2017.]

I find it strangely pleasant to look up diners and other establishments that appear in Zippy. For instance. Matching the so-called real world to the strip helps strengthen my confidence in reality. And sometimes the strip depicts a reality I already know.

Shirley May’s may be found at 36065 Santiam Hwy SE, Albany, Oregon. In the unending effort to protect individual privacy, the Googlerithms have blurred this mascot’s face in Street View. But not in every shot. Yow!

[There is a T on his chest, though it’s not visible here. For Texas? For Tennessee?]

Related reading
All OCA Zippy posts (Pinboard)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Geoffrey Nunberg on Trump’s “amateurish quotation marks”

Geoffrey Nunberg, writing about “the least literate president to take office” since Zachary Taylor:

Trump’s success as a politician owes a lot to his conspicuous disregard for the language of public life, of course. But when he tweets, he exposes himself as someone who has only a tenuous acquaintance with that language in its written form — not just as a man who doesn’t read books, but as a man who doesn’t read. Sealed in the bubble of his orality, he’s cut off from history, from biography, from sciences hard and soft.

That’s no impediment to running a large company, but it seriously impairs his ability to run a country, particularly if he’s at pains to deny or conceal it.

Cosmetic, cosmos

I wondered last night in a conversation with friends: could cosmetic and cosmos be related? Yes, they could be, and are. The Oxford English Dictionary traces both back to the Greek κόσμος, kosmos, meaning “order, ornament, world or universe,” “so called by Pythagoras or his disciples,“ says the OED, “‘from its perfect order and arrangement.’”

Stranger than strange: the first citations for cosmetic and cosmos come from the same source, John Bulwer’s Anthropometamorphosis (1650): “Which damnable portion of cosmetique Art”; “As the greater World is called Cosmus from the beauty thereof.” The OED identifies Bulwer as a “medical practitioner and writer on deafness and on gesture.” A Wikipedia article notes that Bulwer was “the first person in England to propose educating deaf people.”

The mishaps I can imagine resulting from the similarity between cosmetic and cosmos — say, someone wanting to study cosmetology and wondering where all the telescopes went — probably have little relation to reality.

NYT at Merriam-Webster

The New York Times visits lexicographer Kory Stamper at Merriam-Webster headquarters in Springfield, Massachusetts. With a peek into the Consolidated Vocabulary Files.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

WCW for dogs

A mad lib for dogs, by Liana Finck: “This Is Just to Say” (The New Yorker).

In the mailroom

I walk into the English department’s mailroom and find that my mailbox has moved closer to A. I find three examination copies of books for teaching, each in the usual long cardboard wrapper. At the back of the mailbox, shrink-wrapped packages of index cards and a book from interlibrary loan. But the mailbox is too deep for me to reach them. I need a stick or a yardstick.

This is the ninth teaching-related dream I’ve had since retiring, and the third since March 16. The others: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Three dreams in a week: I think they might be prompted by the news of a friend’s retirement.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Word of the day: enrichen

As seen on a great big bag of EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch:

EZ-Straw helps enrichen soil for . . . GREAT RESULTS!
Enrichen caught my eye. The word is missing from the Oxford English Dictionary and Webster’s Second and Third. Google Books returns a number of instances of the word in print, many of which have to do with airplane fuel: “Lean until the engine runs slightly rough — then enrichen until it runs smooth.” The most recent results in Google’s Ngram Viewer show enrich outnumbering enrichen 3,151:1 (2007) and 3,096:1 (2008). I suspect that the use of enrichen is unlikely to embiggen any time soon.

Food fight

Fearing that he will miss out the opportunities that a great war offers, Emil Schulz, “Schlump,” enlists on August 1, 1915, his seventeenth birthday. Here he is, in the war, having not missed out on pork belly and sauerkraut:

Hans Herbert Grimm, Schlump. 1928. Trans. Jamie Bullock (New York: New York Review Books, 2016).

Schlump, one of the many books that the Nazis burned, is an episodic narrative with a strong deadpan element of comedy, as if Buster Keaton or Robert Walser went off to war.


[With a little help from Elaine Fine. And with apologies to “Taps.”]