Bear With Me

Curry Village Lodge Bear

Curry Village Lodge Bear

Is it “Bear with me” or “Bare with me”? These homophones are always difficult for me to parse. They sound the same, but mean different things and are spelled differently too. I’ve always had to be careful when using there, their or they’re. One of Anne’s favorite games is to point out to me select lawn art, as in “Look [dear | deer].” Anne pointed out that the bare phase means to get naked with me, which only raises more questions for me. 😉

Another example of ambiguity in English is the following sentence:

Tom while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher.

Without punctuation this so-called sentence is both lexically incorrect and frankly unintelligible. The example refers to two students, Tom and John, who are required by an English test to describe a man who, in the past, had suffered from a cold. John writes “The man had a cold” which the teacher marks as being incorrect; while Tom writes the correct “The man had had a cold.” Since Tom’s answer was right, it had had a better effect on the teacher. The sentence can be understood more clearly by adding punctuation and emphasis:

Tom, while John had had “had“, had had “had had”; “had had” had had a better effect on the teacher.

I would hate to have to diagram this sentence. There is a simple sentence that is easy to say, but hard to write. It is, “There are three ____ in English”, where the blank symbolizes the homophone [to | too | two], which phonetically is easily said, but it is much harder to write out.

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Miscommunications, garbled conversations, unintelligible blog posts, these are all products of the digital age, or rather its unintentional by-products. Sometimes though, pains are taken to purposely confuse a message and this can lead to unintended consequences. The case of the phrase, “The world wonders”, is a famous example of this.

“The world wonders” was a phrase used as security padding in an encrypted message sent to Admiral Halsey, during WWII. The full message was, “Where is Task Force 34? The world wonders.” The padding words were intended to be without meaning, and were added to hinder Japanese attempts at cryptanalysis, but were mistakenly included in the decoded message handed to Halsey and interpreted by him as a harsh and sarcastic rebuke. Halsey dropped his pursuit of a Japanese carrier task force and turned back.

Growing up, there were various techniques that could be employed to obfuscate the message. If you were old enough, you could hide your meaning from younger siblings, by spelling out the words. This method had a limited shelf life, but on the other hand, it helped to encourage your younger brothers and sisters to learn to spell. Next up was pig Latin.

Ownay oughthay, erethay areway automatedway igpay Atinlay anslatorstray atthay areway availableway orfay eefray onway ethay ebway.

Immigrant parents could wield their native tongue, in front of their Americanized children, but this could also result in the unintended consequence of immersing the children even deeper into American pop culture and there by obtaining an analogous level of unintelligibility. Come to think of it, even native born American parents can suffer from this problem.

Finally, there is the technique of pronouncing the words backwards. I remember doing this with Anne and her cousins. I was Kram and she was Enna. I was never as good at this as Anne was, but I don’t think that she ever held a candle to the above YouTube video girl’s talent.

Sed lacus. Donec lectus. Nullam pretium nibh ut turpis. Nam bibendum. In nulla tortor, elementum vel, tempor at, varius non, purus. Mauris vitae nisl nec metus placerat consectetuer. Donec ipsum. Proin imperdiet est. Phasellus dapibus semper urna. Pellentesque ornare, orci in consectetuer hendrerit, urna elit eleifend nunc, ut consectetuer nisl felis ac diam.

In publishing, lorem ipsum is filler text commonly used to demonstrate the graphics elements, such as font and layout. The lorem ipsum text is typically a section of a Latin text by Cicero with words altered, added and removed that make it nonsensical in meaning and not proper Latin.

I guess that you could say that the underlying theme of this post is talking nonsense. This is what you get, when there is no news to report and I haven’t spun out on to one of my rants. I’ll try to come to my senses by tomorrow, but anyway, the reader should always beware.

Would You Like Fries With That?

I know that Zoe would

I called my Dad today and when I finally got him on the telephone, he asked me a question, ”What happens when you immerse the human body into water?” This puzzled me at first, but then he answered his own question. The answer of course was, “The phone rings.”

I use to walk at lunchtime with Barbara, but then she up and retired on me. Now I walk alone, but not without my iPhone. I listen to various podcasts while I stroll the parking lots. My favorite one is Slate’s Cultural Gabfest. This week’s three course offering serves up a review of the new “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” movie, a remembrance of writer and Slate contributor, Christopher Hitchens and best of all, a discussion of the phenomenon called vocal fry.

Marissa Fessenden’s article, “‘Vocal Fry’ Creeping into U.S. Speech”, in Science Now, has touched off a fire storm in the blogosphere. The above audio clip, also from Science Now, explains what vocal fry is. The controversy erupted because the article suggested that vocal fry was either a female epidemic of speech pathology or an affectation akin to valley girl up speak. Pushback was quick and forceful. Another great podcast steer, the Language Log does it best. True, Brittany Spears affects this speech pattern, but so did Mae West. When did Lauren Bacall’s raspy voice, full of sultry sophistication become less preferrable than the high screech of bubbly ditziness?

You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.

Five artists walk into a bar, no this is not a joke, but it is a good story. Last night, Dan and some of his Webster art friends went to the Crows Nest, a cabaret bar in Maplewood. The show featured a couple of scantily clad young ladies, the belly dancer and Santa girl. Stoking the fires of audience participation, a contest was held for the best picture of each. It boiled down to a contest between the sketch artists versus the photographers. Dan’s table won all the free drinks. Who says art is dead? Photography as an art form was not helped by the creepers who practiced it. Interestingly, both of the graduate school artists were bested by their undergraduate brethren. What does this say about the burgeoning field of cabaret bar art? Hey, it worked for Toulouse-Lautrec.

Dan is graduating from graduate school at CalArts next semester. He has already begun work on his thesis project. Unfortunately, I have been sworn to secrecy. Hey, isn’t that prior restraint? I can say this; his work will occupy the largest space on campus. His piece will make the most use of the biggest gallery. He checked his grades for this semester and they were all Harry Potters (High Pass), which is better than Potters (Pass) or Lousy Potters (Low Pass).

PS – Anne biked 19 miles today. Whoo Hoo!

PPS – Today was the shortest day of the year and tonight is the darkest night of the month, with tonight’s dark of the moon.


Peristeronic /pəˌrɪstəˈrɒnɪk/ (adj.)

  1. A reference to pigeons
  2. Of or relating to pigeons

Pigeon-fancying was a popular pastime in nineteenth century England.  Charles Darwin became a fancier in 1855 and studied variations in pigeons as part of his research for his seminal work, On the Origin of the Species.  All that being said, peristeronic is now an extremely obscure word and only came to my attention through my reading of the online comic strip xkcd

Sorry folks, but it has been that kind of week.  😉