in memoriam: David Foster Wallace

in David Foster Wallace a great part of the american landscape of literature and language was lost. As an addendum to Scott's last post, i wanted to point out the ways DFW touched invented usage.

better than Dave Eggers

when we decided to book club on invented usage, our first (and so far, only) attempt was Dave Eggers's A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. i was still reeling from my first encounter with Wallace, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and those discussions showed it. in both part 1 and part 3, i really revealed how much he influenced all the reading i did afterward. if you'll permit me to quote myself...
and the thing that sets the gimmickry of ahwosg apart from that of, say, david foster wallace, is that eggers never turns the lens around. he never makes the reader speak to him, never comes out with 'the only access you have to these tragedies is what i'm choosing to tell you about it, and you can't trust me!'. (part 1)

i think that witty, po-mo, self-referentiality was, at one time, a very new idea. but now we've read david foster wallace and the whole new generation of writers that he and Eggers spawned, so i feel like the style has lost some freshness. (part 3)

for a certain genre of writing, DFW has informed, if not outright spoiled, innumerable readers of our generation.

death of a SNOOT
in the summer of 2006, i came across an article by DFW, Harper's Magazine: Tense Present, that i felt compelled, as a usage liberal, to engage with. the resulting post, the SNOOT fallacy, generated a lot more comments than average, and in turn compelled me to write one of my favorite posts, the deconstruction of a stradivarius.

it's an understatement to say i was surprised to find out that DFW was a SNOOT. really, it shook the core liberal values that have inspired this blog from the beginning. if a writer like DFW, who so clearly knows and respects the value of language, calls himself a SNOOT, maybe SNOOThood isn't as bad as i'd previously thought?

i stood my ground, obviously, and those posts explain why, but DFW was the most worthy SNOOT adversary i can imagine. that confrontation is a moment worth pointing out in the blog's history.

suicide the internet
DFW is called a postmodern writer for several reasons. not the least of these, i think, is his engagement with media in a lot of different forms. what little of his writing i've actually read involves characters who realize that their whole lives are built by text and so on. for me, he really brought home the ways in which we are surrounded (in some cases trapped) by the texts that surround us (writing and speech about us, by us, for us).

i'm not sure whether it's ironic or appropriate, then, that he's now the subject of an extensive online obituary. gawker's compilation points out the fact that DFW will now continue to reach out, via the internet -- from beyond the grave -- to new readers. mcsweeney's probably has THE example of this postmodern obit. their 'memories' page collects the eulogies of anyone and everyone who ever met DFW -- especially those who got kind notes from him -- so that seemingly every word he wrote is collected and instantly accessible.

but this new DFW is surrounded by his suicide. if his work was somewhat disquieting before, it will now be a road map into depression or an extended suicide note.

suicide presents all kinds of questions, and writings like DFW's provide lots of possible answers. i predict, the commentary (see all the comments on the links above) from readers will no longer be about our modern times or about technology, but about the man himself. and who knows whether he would have wanted that?


Christ on a jet-ski, Hallie!

David Foster Wallace left us this past weekend, and the world is a much sadder place for it. I'd first heard his name when in high school, when my most beloved teacher, Ms. Wilson, recommended his magnum opus "Infinite Jest" to me. She knew that I might find the 1,100 page novel a bit daunting, and suggested--if I didn't have the nerve--that I might as well just pick up "Girl With Curious Hair."

It wasn't until after college, during the summer of '07, that I finally got up the nerve to tackle IJ with my girlfriend who would be reading it also. It took over our lives in a way only few things can, and we became both a source of irritation and envy for our friends. During that time, reading about Don Gately, Hal Incandenza, O.N.A.N., Eschaton, Wheelchair Assasins, Madame Psychosis, The Entertainment, the concavexity, etc etc, I kept thinking to myself that I wish I'd read it sooner. In it's pages I found a sensitivity to the modern condition that was at once critical and empowering, at once heartbreaking and hopeful.

In the days since DFW "eliminated his own map" (to borrow terminology from IJ), I've read tributes written by everyone from Patton Oswalt to Dave Eggers to Gawker commenters. It's surprising and heartening to see just how many people are affected by his loss. His genius was one of those rare types, so total and self assured as to take the form of a sheer force of nature. In no small sense, his gift was taken for granted, and, now that it is gone, his lack will leave a gaping hole in the literary consciousness that it is incumbent upon us to fill.

Christ on a jet-ski, Davie! We'll miss you.


invented fraking usage

no sooner did i say (in my last post) that one person rarely, if ever, has the power to change language, than this lead comes out of AP:
What the 'frak'? Faux curse seeping into language
NEW YORK - Lee Goldberg thinks Glen A. Larson is a genius, and not because the prolific television writer and producer gave us "Knight Rider" and "B.J. and the Bear."

It was Larson who first used the faux curse word "frak" in the original "Battlestar Galactica." The word was mostly overlooked back in the '70s series but is working its way into popular vocabulary as SciFi's modern update winds down production. (full story here)

The article gives the same explanation for 'frak's 'virus-like' spread in culture as for its use on the show: "You can't get in trouble. It's a made-up word."

On Battlestar Galactica (or BSG to us cult members), 'frak' is everywhere. The plot centers on the military crew of the last battlestar in existence, which is about to be destroyed at any moment -- they're earthy, adult characters in a pretty fraking awful situation that merits a lot of cursing. In terms of usage, 'frak' is exactly equivalent to its 'real,' taboo counterpart. Characters accuse each other of fraking one another and they ask, 'What the frak?' I'm not totally sure, but I think they even call each other 'motherfrakers.'

While Larson, of the original series, claims he was trying to give the show an 'other-worldly' feel by using the made up word, it also clearly serves a really important purpose. I (and I assume a lot of viewers) was a bit turned off by it at first, but we definitely buy a made-up word more easily than we buy a bunch of soldiers who don't curse.

Language log has blogged quite a bit about what they call 'taboo avoidance,' especially at the New York Times and other media of record. But the frak of BSG is different for two notable reasons.

First, it's not in print. LL has chronicled a lot of attempts to orthographically represent curse words, like f***, f-bomb and #@!!*. But I'm unfamiliar with similar devices for the spoken word except saying "Starbuck here used an expletive."

Second, the NYT gets into trouble because the people it's quoting and reporting about curse. We all know the Times' motto, but some of the news isn't exactly fit to print. Larson and the other BSG writers, on the other hand, have no such task to accomplish. Their only obvious option was to write characters who didn't curse.

Exactly why 'frak' is ok by the FCC is another important question. One of the actors quoted by AP espouses a theory that it must actually be the sound of a word, not its meaning, that matters. But according to a recent appeals court ruling against the FCC, Bono's use of 'fucking' at the Golden Globe awards should not have merited a fine because "offensive language used as an insult rather than as a description of sexual or excretory activity or organs is not within the scope of the Commission's prohibition of indecent program content." (More on LawMeme.)

Though we started with the power of an individual, we return, as always, to the masses. Because 'frak' does not have the same history of usage as 'fuck,' it's not the same word. It doesn't carry the same associations as the really violent, angry instances of 'fuck' we've heard throughout our lives.

But the point of the AP article is that 'frak' is making its way into that spot in our vocabulary -- if only among the nerds. If this 'viral' propagation continues, and if 'frak' starts taking on those violent associations, maybe when they remake BSG in another 30 years, it will be just as taboo as 'fuck.' I've definitely caught a strain of the virus. I've never used it in anger, but I've cursed 'frak!' in my head a few times. I've also thought 'Gods damn it!' when the mood strikes.

(Thanks to Jamie for sending this one our way!)


a manifesto and call for submissions

language is constantly changing. this truism has always been the foundation of this blog, but i wonder whether i've ever really written about it directly. language changes. i can't begin to think of a counter argument. who believes that it doesn't? even the most stalwart grammar nazis must admit, grudgingly, that language does change.

language changes according to some predictable patterns, some semantic, some syntactic, some phonetic. but it also changes according to the whims of inventing users, which are unpredictable to the same extent that human life and action is unpredictable.

sometimes the way language changes even changes. new technologies emerge that make new transformations possible, like typographic change. what it means for language to change changes. rules and norms can also change, allowing whole ranges of invented usages to emerge or gain legitimacy.

an invented usage is the leading edge that exposes a change in language. very rarely does any of them make a splash on its own, but they often indicate a certain change or even a change in the way change happens that can have far-reaching social, psychological, political or technological roots and implications.

invented usages also have effects beyond their meaning, beyond their connotation or denotation. they make us uncomfortable. they make us laugh or take each other more seriously or less seriously. they make some people angry.

'why?' is a question i've meant to address for a while. why does change in language affect us? i've arrived, of course, at my own answer. because that's what bloggers do.

language surrounds us like the whole world. we are born into it, we work with it our entire lives, and we pass out of it. and no one person can have any measure of control over it. only a handful can string together a single sentence that lasts for a decade. even fewer can actually change the language itself for any amount of time. who has the power to create and destroy words, or alter their meanings forever?

and yet, language changes. no wonder people who strive to perfect language are so frustrated when a mob they don't know, don't like, don't respect, and consider uneducated, change it effortlessly and without a second thought.

meanings, and our ability to express them, are precious. in fact, they're the ground we stand on. invented usages are the joining of things we never thought were the same; they're the tearing apart of one thing we thought shouldn't ever be broken.

Invented Usage tries to celebrate, or at least tolerate those changes in all their mechanisms and forms. though we all use language differently, i find some comfort in the fact that invented usages come into being because we all change it in similar ways. change ultimately takes place because we continue to make the same mistakes and innovations as people we've never met, the way channels form because drops repeatedly take the same path down a slope.

on Invented Usage, a manifesto and a call for submissions aren't incompatible, because invented usages come from everywhere.

so send in your invented usages, right to inventedusage@gmail.com. send in an invented usage, and i'll post about it. send in posts, and i'll post them. all my favorite blogs (photoshopdisasters.com, thingsyoungerthanmccain.com, do it this way. maybe, with the power of the internet, we can all be in this together.


a pretty, preettty, pretttty invented usage

a german exchange student i hosted in high school asked me, "what does 'pretty' mean?"
"schoen," i said. "beautiful."
"but you just said, 'it's a pretty good movie,'" she said.
"oh! that pretty..." and i discovered i really couldn't define what i'd meant.

not only that -- i wasn't completely sure what i'd meant in the first place. did i like the movie "to a fair or moderate degree" as per the dictionary.com definition of "pretty"? did i really dislike it, but want to avoid conflict with someone who may have liked it a lot? did my inflection rise from high to higher on "pretty," indicating that i was surprisingly impressed with the film? which of these meanings is conveyed by which prosodic pattern?

i can find surprisingly little information on the usage of "pretty" on the internet aside from the above dictionary definition, which isn't that helpful. "fairly" and "moderately" don't really answer the most basic semantic question, when i say something was "pretty good," to what degree did i like it? more than a lot? less than a little? a moderate amount?

some friends and i brainstormed and came up with at least a half-dozen meanings of "pretty" depending on context and inflection. some of these seemed to be ironic plays on each other. normally these things are considered adaptations or inflections on some basic semantic meaning. But i'd argue that there is no use in starting with the "original" or "normal" meaning of "pretty." we must consider apparently "external" things like context and inflection from the beginning when studying meaning. (and anyway, even language log says...)

using some humorous examples, i'd like to argue that we often deliberately use pretty to hedge or be unclear -- or uncertain -- about our meaning.

consider one of the most famous users of "pretty," Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm. a number of times throughout the series he says things are "pretty pretty preeeettttty, pretty good. pretty good," at pretty awkward and inappropriate times. hilarity ensues.

here, he's renewing his wedding vows. at a time when he should be as enthusiastic as possible, he mitigates his positive feelings by saying his relationship with his pretty wife is "pretty good."

in this scene, he's talking to a young man about his new relationship. the ambiguity of "pretty" makes for a very awkward situation.

in another scene that i couldn't find on youTube, larry gets reamed out by a near-stranger in a most extreme way, but when his wife asks, "how did it go?" he says "pretty, preettyy, pretty good."

i think those scenes are funny precisely because no one knows exactly what he means by "pretty." emphasizing the word that seems to have little to no meaning on its own is absurd and pretty funny.

i usually write these kinds of posts in response to a claim by someone i disagree with. but i wasn't able to find any in this case. i'd like to issue a challenge to any one out there in blogo-land to come up with a useful, semantic, non-usage based definition of "pretty."


Letter to Anheuser-Busch

Anheuser-Busch, Inc.

One Busch Place

St. Louis, MO 63118

May 1, 2008

To Whom It May Concern:

While enjoying one of your affordably priced, moderately quaffable beers the other day, I noticed Busch’s slogan. It read—and you’ll have to forgive my paraphrase—something along the lines of, “Refreshing as a mountain stream, smooth as its name.” With respect to the second clause, I couldn’t help but wonder if this is intended to be vaguely sexual? On the surface, it seems to indicate that “Busch” is a word that flows easily off the tongue. I think we both know that it is not. There may be something to say about the word’s sibilant conclusion, but the hard b and guttural u are anything but smooth. Personally, I think the phrase is suggestive of a certain part of the female anatomy that shares its name with your hops flavored brew. If this is the case, then I’d have to say that I believe your slogan is quite clever. If not, then I’d suggest changing it. Your marketing department, no doubt, can come up with something sexier or more ironic to slap on your cans. In fact, I might start there. Cans.

“Busch: We’ve got cans you can suck on all night long.”

Okay, maybe that’s a little weak, but you get the point. I’m not the person you pay ungodly sums of money to design your packaging.

All this nonsense aside, thank you for providing me and others with a thirty rack that can fuel any night of drunken depravity, and burden the next morning with the severest of hangovers.

Beer flavored regards,

Scott Kolp


the slow rise of the plingular

now that i'm working in a writing/editing setting, at some moments i get to discuss usage professionally. sometimes this is particularly interesting, since the News Editor to my Editorial Assistant is British. recently, he caught a 'mistake' in an ad. it was the sentence,
that's a savings of over $400!
"shouldn't it be 'that's a saving,'?" he said, very reasonably. 'why, yes,' i said, 'it probably should. '

but it just isn't.

comparative google stats bear out my assertion: 124,000 hits for "that's a savings" vs. 59,000 hits for "that's a saving." it's apparently not done across the pond, though.

similarly, while we were debating the capitalization of the following headline:
Why Are Operations the Forgotten Part of Firefighting?
i asked, "shouldn't it be 'Why is Operations...'?" and, sure enough, our intuitions and the rest of the article agreed. (otherwise, wouldn't it have to be 'Why Are Operations the Forgotten Parts of Firefighting?) it doesn't sound right, either (maybe this is just in the firefighting speech community?) to say, "Why is Operation the Forgotten Part..." it's also surprisingly hard to find a good standard for capitalization, but that's a whole nother post.

so, what's going on then, eh? somehow 'operations' and 'savings,' which both have legitimate s-less singular versions, have migrated over into singular territory themselves.

it strikes me that both of these singular nouns are parts of a whole. when they're not used that way, we naturally revert to the plural verb forms. 'operations are going well,' 'savings are hard to come by,' but in the original cases given, they're specifically a single part of a whole -- either part of a price or part of firefighting.

however, that doesn't seem to be a 'reason,' per se, and it seems to take some repeated use for nouns to wear down into this pattern. evidence for the slow, uneven (even unmotivated?) erosion of usage: these aberrant singulars are particular to speech communities (Americans, Firefighters) and i have trouble coming up with novel examples. 'flowers is a forgotten part of romance,' doesn't seem right. maybe it's the suffixes? no... 'mastications is an important part of digestion' doesn't sound good, either.

i'd love to hear them if you have other examples of s-ending singulars. the only other one i can think of, interestingly, is 'news,' which was originally the plural form of 'newe,' meaning a new thing or tiding. but that word had been in this grammatical predicament since it was middle english.


the prestige hierarchy of domain names

please slide your eyeballs on up to the top of your browser window and look at the url in your browser.

language in the realm of computers is particularly interesting because of its ability to command. one writes to a computer and, by doing so, actually acts. some liken this to the ancients' belief in the mystical power of language in the form of runes or charms.

the url is a particularly interesting example of computer language because it's not just words, or even just a command--it's both those instances of language, and a location as well.

everything between the http://and the next / is the name of/location of/directions to a particular website or server. after the /, each term is a directory or file. for instance, the website where i work runs a server machine called FireRescue1, which is our domain name. on that machine are folders corresponding to each of our topics: /products, /ems and so on.

as with any system of language, this one has a grammar that lets us understand the relationships of the parts. in many ways, they go from larger to smaller as you read from left to right, and the smaller parts are contained within the larger ones.

and of course, as in any system of language, even language that's seemingly written for machines, where there is hierarchy, there is prestige.

i recently laughed when a friend recently directed me to his old website, "phoenix web." "oh," I said, are you phoenixweb.com? and he said, "no, phoenix-web.us." and i was immediately struck by what a drop in prestige this was. similarly, this blog would be all the more professional if it were located at inuse.com. but of course, that kind of prestige costs money...

the basic idea for this post came, actually, from a woman's email address i saw: herfirstname@herhusband'slastname.com. would it ever be the other way around?


Introducing The Interrationale

Another shameless blog plug: I have recently started a new blog as a creative outlet as well: The Interrationale.

Unfortunately, I don't think it is very accessible, at all, since it is essentially just place to put detailed research notes as I read up on some schools of thought that I didn't get to study in college.

The result is all the clarity and cohesiveness of Western Marxist social theory expressed in the vivid, dynamic idiom of analytic philosophy.

That said, I would treat it as a personal favor if anybody read and reacted to it. It actually is going to have a lot to do with language and rhetoric, since one of my main sources is Habermas' The Theory of Communicative Action.

Ultimately, one goal I have is to build to a rigorous answer to this question: how is computing and especially the internet communication changing society?


Introducing Invented Versage

invented usage has, in more ways than one, spawned an offspring called Invented Versage (www.inversage.blogspot.com). inverse.blogspot was taken, so Invented Verses was out. No matter for the denizens of invented usage--we just make it up as we go along.

as of right now, my plan is to make Invented Versage a home solely for my poems and commentary about them. i'm in a narcissistic mood about them because i just participated in my first san francisco poetry reading last night at a bar in the mission called, forebodingly, 'amnesia.'

my poetry, to my great excitement, was pretty well received, and i met a few very nice people--including fellow readers--who asked whether my writing was online. so, now i was no longer lying.

i've only posted one poem so far, but my plan is to quickly post the bulk of my existing work and then be inspired to write more. and have the energy to maintain invented usage more than i have been... though, i may as well say, it's been harder to think deep thoughts about language since i was informed that i didn't get into berkeley. maybe i'll write some tragic poetry about it.

Invented Versage


san francisco's pleasant rhetoric

the notion that san francisco is an unusually friendly big city has been one of those for which i had no evidence at all until one day, on the muni ([myOO-nee]: i basically ride a trolley to work everyday--quaint, no?), i noticed this sign on the driver's cab:
Information gladly given but safety requires avoiding unnecessary conversation
the first thing that struck me was, 'why is the print so small on that sign?' followed by, 'why is that sign so unnecessarily wordy?'

one can imagine a similar sign in another large city (i name no names) saying
Do not speak to driver
but not in san francisco! it is safety, not the driver herself, that objects to conversation. it is only 'unnecessary conversatoion' that should be avoided--don't hesitate to inform the driver of an emergency--though really, 'unnecessary' is unnecessary, since having a necessary statement to make to the driver would just force you to break the rules, anyway.

another highly unnecessary word merits mention: 'gladly.' information will not be given begrudgingly on the muni!

the driver isn't even 'shunning' unnecessary conversation or 'stopping' it or anything like that; just mildly avoiding it like a small, friendly child in the street, for safety's sake.

even consider the ordering of the sentence. the alternative, "safety requires avoiding unnecessary conversation, but information is gladly given," just really puts too much emphasis on the negative, doesn't it?

i'm still not sure it's exactly what i'd call 'evidence' for my friendly city theory, but it's definitely a good sign.


admiral ackbar cereal!?

There's something rhetorically interesting going on in this, known as 'Sh!^ing around - Admiral Ackbar':
It makes me think the original admiral ackbar might be the funniest thing ever created. Funny at all speeds.

But perhaps it's not quite as interesting as *this* remix:

These guys are just begging to be widely known on the internet:

looks like one of these 'make your own corporate commercial' contests.

But! when i went back to give you a link to the original vid--a necessary part of understanding the above videos?--i was faced with THIS.

In case that didn't work, what it is is a google search that shows a screen shot of the original video and then says "this is no longer available."

Somewhere out there, has someone, probably comedy central's lawyers, defined the difference between the original video and those above? or maybe they just haven't found them yet?

A consolation prize.

Whoa! I love the Godfather:

By the way! Real bloggers write in html.


a rhetorical flourish

as i mentioned in my last post, i've put in an application to UC Berkeley's Department of Rhetoric. gah, it just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? a bit about why i'm so ga-ga for this particular ivory tower, and what i'd do if they let me scale the walls:

first, the description on the website:
The Department of Rhetoric is a leading center for interdisciplinary research and teaching in the humanities and social sciences. Linked by a common interest in the functions of discourse in all its forms, faculty and students engage the theoretical, historical, and cultural dimensions of interpretation and criticism, in fields as diverse as political theory, gender, law, media studies, philosophy, and literature.
neat, huh?

the department is sort of inside out--they're not unified by a particular subject matter, but by a particular approach. people there do philosophy, history, film studies, english, etc. but they do them from this discourse-studying post-structurally-informed standpoint that sees all those disciplines as part of the same cultural moments and movements.

so, i love linguistics as a discipline, but i want to come at it from that direction. i think it's too entrenched to really be shaken up from the inside the way i want to.

how do i want to? i'm glad you asked. first of all, linguistics, for all its science-y rhetoric, relies on certain metaphors and assumptions that define how it conceives its objects: a person is the genesis of language, a person exists independent of language and then gains it, the purpose of language is to communicate information, and so on. an approach that examined these assumptions as metaphors and rhetorical figures would be ultra revealing.

second, disciplines like rhetoric (and brown's MCM department, notably), are doing a neat thing called 'media-specific analysis.' here is a ucla website on the topic. the first listed author, btw, is one of my recommenders! she taught a great course my last semester at brown for which i did some of my favorite work. including a 20-mile-wide webpage. which i should post.

anyway, MSA is being done on genre and poetry and so on, but not everyday language itself. why not? where are the people talking about how typing is changing language? what are the differences between print and speech, from a linguistic, not poetic, standpoint? these things aren't being talked about in linguistics, as far as i know.

i had a really nice meeting with a rhetoric prof, michael mascuch, just about the day after i submitted my application. he's done some interesting thinking about the authority of various media and how that relative authority has shifted over time. so he's examining novels and history, but maybe the techniques used in these disciplines provide a way into looking at the effects of media on language itself. (language conceived as an entity apart from any particular speaker? yeah... maybe...)

aside from that, the department has some major heavy hitters like judith butler and kaja silverman. AND, it's berkeley. come on. it's beautiful, it's in the bay area, and it's got people like john searle and george lakoff, who are SO important, even if i don't agree with them and submitted my writing sample on just how much i don't agree with them. it's a move i'm second-guessing.

the ulterior motives for this post: 1. maybe admissions committees do google searches? they should, in this day and age, shouldn't they? not that this slap-dashery will impress anyone, but maybe my enthusiasm is more apparent than in my overly-reworked statements of purpose. 2. i need to not think about this now. i'll know in just over a week if i didn't get in, and i'm hoping that getting this post out of my system will help alleviate the stress. fat chance: 200 applicants, 10 spots.

oh well, there's always next year.


where have I been?

greetings, faithful reader(s). i've gone over 6 weeks without posting. i'm currently too tired to look anything up, but that may be a record.

where have i been? i've been entering grown-up land! but don't worry, there's lots of language out here too.

between christmas and new year's, a friend and i loaded up a u-haul and moved to san francisco. i also managed to find a real, paying job out here since the last time i posted. i'm the assistant editor of FireRescue1, a news website for firefighters. my first news story (i'll be writing at least one a month) is online here: rappelling firefighters. in addition, i'm putting together bi-weekly and fourish-times-monthly newsletters, the most recent of which you can check out here: volume 221. i'm learning the business of 'web editing,' so maybe you'll see some fancy html up here soon.

though, i have to say, it is surprisingly exhausting to work as much as i'm currently working. mentally, that is. so consider this post my warm up, or my running start--Invented Usage will be flying again in no time. or fall on its face.

i've also got an application in to UC Berkeley's rhetoric Ph.D. program. I should know within the next few weeks if i don't get in. hm...

to make this a more legit post, an invented usage overheard at Tart-to-Tart, a neat little bakery chain that has a branch out here in my new neighborhood, the Sunset: "i don't want too much frosting. I've never cared for the flavor of frost." or something like that. it wasn't totally ironic, either. the speaker said he realized as he was using the word that it was a neologism, but would probably make his meaning understood. and it did. i'm still amazed.

and, as an added bonus, a few teasers about posts i've been considering writing for a while now:
  • jobs that make us break conversational implicatures and hence, create awkward social situations
  • AP style (the other thing I'm learning at my job)--practical reasons to solidfy conventions
  • language barriers in san francisco
  • The Department of Rhetoric and the media-specific analyses of language I would undertake if I were accepted there someday...
no promises, though. there's a quiche in the oven.