I’ve realised that I should be grateful for my day-to-day exposure to the corporate world, because it is such a fertile ground for language abuse. Seriously. My favourite thing is walking around office buildings reading the various signs that tell you what to do and not to do. Trust me, they almost invariably sport such terrible grammar, malapropisms and ambiguity that you can’t tear your eyes away.
And then there is software. Ever since software designers realised they needed to improve the usability of their products and got chatty in their communications, it has been a buffet of misuse. Though I will cut the software people some slack in that many of them are operating in multiple languages.
So, to my favourite of the week… This was the conversational way that an online service introduced their help functionality: Sometimes we all need help.
Another gigglefest from xkcd!!
“Death pledge” sounds so serious doesn’t it? It’s actually just what “mortgage” means. So if you have a home loan, you do have a death pledge!
Of course this isn’t because the money-lender traditionally killed you if you defaulted on your repayments, but because “death” was being used in the sense of the end of something. In this case either full repayment or foreclosure.
In other words, you were pledging that you’d either pay back the loan or give the money-lender the house. You were pledging your house to secure the loan, which is how mortgages still work today.
Every time I see an ad for home loans, I replace “home loan” and “mortgage” with “death pledge”, because how can sentences like “competitive death pledge rates” not be amusing?
I’ve never grown out of dinosaurs (can’t understand why people do!), but I will admit that in one or two cases, I enjoy talking about them because their names are fun to say. Try velociraptor. See? How fun was that?
But of all the dinosaurs, it’s really hard to find an excuse to get diplodocus into a sentence. Unlike the velociraptor and T-rex, poor old thing just isn’t as famous or useful for analogies as many of the others.
Then, recently, I managed to put diplodocus into a sentence during a conversation! I was so proud.
I’ve been thinking I should get a t-shirt made that says “Ask me about the diplodocus” 🙂
Recently I was thinking about why “murder” is worse than “manslaughter”. Not that there’s really a good way to kill someone, but in law we differentiate between planning to kill and it just happening. What I wondered though was why “manslaughter” was the word for the lesser evil.
Interesting thing was that the differentiation of the words was because people had to differentiate the crimes; nothing inherent in the origins or use of either word led to it being picked. Man-slaughter described killing a man, just as animal-slaughter described killing animals (for food).
To my ears, I think “manslaughter” sounds worse than “murder”. But that’s just me!
Imagine the sound of the wind blowing through an empty space and you’ll have this blog for the past few weeks! I’ve had a total aversion to being on any computer I didn’t absolutely have to be on, so poor bloggykins got neglected. Which has meant an extended break from editing and a lot of new words going on in my brain.
Still, I did find an excellent origin story during the break! Again, it was one of those phrases that I’ve always heard and often used, but just suddenly thought one day “I wonder what it actually means”. The phrase varies a bit according to application, but the core idea is “getting a bead on [someone/something]”. Now that’s a curious use of the word “bead” right?
It is – as I’m sure the gun fans out there already know – referring to a bump on a gun barrel that is used to help you aim. Which is why “to have a bead on”, “get a bead on” or “draw a bead on” someone or something is like “having [whatever] in your sights”. Except I have to say that the latter phrase sometimes means you’re aiming to take them down, whereas “having a bead on” doesn’t seem to get used that way, with just the aspect of focussing on what/whoever.
Given how many phrases there are that relate to guns and weapons I’m not entirely surprise by the origin of this one, but not being a gun person I had no idea they had “beads” and so would never have guessed it!
Not sure if I’ve blogged this before but…
Atheists don’t solve exponential equations because they don’t believe in higher powers.