Category Archives: English language

Nice party to be in

While looking up old YA literature on HathiTrust, I ran across this, which is the voter roll for the Bronx in 1903.

It is what it is at first glance really, a tedious enumeration of voters, addresses and parties, useful only for genealogy. And noting that the United States did once have parties like “Social Democrat” and “Socialist Labor” (and the occasional “Prohibition”).

Then you turn up:


I have no idea what Charles H. Douglas’s party registration is. There wasn’t, that I’m aware of, a “defective” party. If his registration was bad, wouldn’t they just reject it? Was this the 1903 version of “show ID at polling place”? Persons with mental limitations (“mental defectives”) were forbidden to vote, so I doubt it is that.

If anyone knows anything about this, please post a comment here.

Fun in the MLA + ACW

MLA is the Modern Language Association, and they are responsible for the MLA style of citations used in some research papers, in opposition to the APA, IEEE and others. I shouldn’t really say opposition to, since they all have the same goal in the end.

Anyway, some amusements I have found are:

  • The now changed Purdue OWL example of an anonymous publication citation: “Wordsworth is a Loser 100”.
  • The ACW style sheet, that I swear was partially adapted into MLA. Examples can be seen here. For some reason I remembered “pine_guest” for maybe 15 years since I first had to work on MLA papers in English 101 and had a handbook for citing MLA style.
  • I cannot find it now with some cursory searches, but there was an example text about motion picture censorship that I think was lifted from someone’s research paper, about how licensing fees by governments (towns and villages) were used to control films.

Anyone have anything else like this?


Turds!! – A college student pranque

According to WikipediA, this immage was gotten up and spread about by some Indiana University students many many years Ago (1890). For the better education of the students of to-day, it is transcribed below.

Contains offencive language.

Continue reading

There ought to be a word for this

On the way to work, I pass through some areas where the rocky hills or mountains have been cut to provide a roadway. At these cuts or passes, the rough rock is exposed in faces on one or both sides of the road.

During warm weather, springs may be seen where the rock face is damped (usually it is a darker color). During colder weather, these flow onto the road and form ice in a little bar maybe 30 to 50 cm wide across the road.

There should be a short word to refer to these things that combines the elements of (ice) (on the road) (from a spring) (caused by earth removal). There must be such a word in some language that could be adapted, or adopted.

Checkbox v. dropdown

When I was applying for a position at, if I remember correctly, PSEG, I had to fill out a diversity form or two or three. I don’t have a problem with that.

I did notice this UI confusion though:


Clearly that is a drop down menu. However I would note that check boxes would actually be improper here, since the options are mutually exclusive (check one). However, if they said “click on of the radio buttons” they would be probably confusing people who don’t know UI designers jargon.

Register shift in Civ III installer

In linguistics there is a term, register, for the formality level of speech or writing.

Installers or “Setup” programs – at least on the PC/Windows platform – are traditionally upper register, using formal terms. I suspect this is because the common installer making programs (InstallShield, WISE, etc.) supply most of the boilerplate text, such as the introduction page, the scary copyright warning and similar text.

One place that is left up to the person making the installer is the system components and requirements specification. For Civilization III (a good strategy game, by the way) the person responsible got a little loose:


Spot it?

Continue reading

More English reform: -ese to -eze

Months ago now I promised to explain why I spelled the demonym of China “Chineze”.

I suggest this as a simple way to bring spoken and written English closer together. So:

  • Chinese -> Chineze
  • Japanese -> Japaneze
  • Korean -> Korean
  • Congoese -> Congoleze (Both Congos)

…and so on.

Vietnamese is a special case and might be better changed to just “Viet”.

Unlocked v. Obtained

Question: Has anyone else ever wondered at the common term “achievement unlocked”? It is used in videogames to indicate a particularly noteworthy, interesting or difficult task has been successfully performed by the player. Heck there is even a series of games whose focus is nothing be obtaining (rather trivial) achievements. The first, and best in my opinion, is simply “Achievement Unlocked“.

To me, unlocking something (in a game) provides further functionality or ability. Achievements usually do neither, and are just a nice trophy to look at. Wouldn’t “obtained” or “earned” make more sense, since that is usually how trophies are gotten?