As Opposed To What?

Not sure if this is a good question or if the car people are going to look at me like I’m some sort of idiot, but here goes.

Sometimes on car commercials they’ll say something like “get available features like heated seats or Apple CarPlay for only X dollars for a limited time.”

Yes, my question is the obvious one. What is an available feature? Aren’t all features available? Who are these people selling and more importantly buying the unavailable ones? Can you really go into a dealership and say “sir, this is a lovely Honda indeed, but if it doesn’t come with robot arms that will pick up vehicles in my traffic jam and deposit them over the rail for me I don’t think I can buy it”, and then have the dealer say “that’s not available, but that’ll be $200 now that you mention it” and then make the guy actually pay it without complaint?

Is available feature some kind of car jargon that sounds weird to regular people like me but makes sense if you’re in the business, or is available a fancy extra word used to help more easily part fools from their money?

“Honey, I had to take the furry antenna cover. It was an available feature, and deals like that don’t just grow on trees. It was either that or I hesitate and pay the imagination fee again, and at least now the aerial will be warm.”

Bad Medicine

Is this a poorly worded headline or is it just me? Expired drugs may remain effective and safe to use for those in remote areas

The story itself does make sense, but the title reads a bit like “let the uncivilized folk eat the garbage medicine.”

And hey, if the stuff stays good for years longer than we’re told, why should the rest of us throw it away? Somebody’s ripping us off even more than we thought.

Even medicines that are years past their expiration date and haven’t always been kept in strict climate-controlled conditions may still retain their original potency, a small study suggests.
That is good news for people working in remote areas of the world where sometimes an expired medication is the only one available and the alternative is having no way to treat a serious illness, the study authors write in the journal Wilderness & Environmental Medicine.
“The expiry date on a drug packet is the last date a drug company will guarantee the drug content and stability when stored in the recommended conditions and in the original packaging,” said lead study author Dr. Emma Browne of the British Antarctic Survey Medical Unit in Plymouth, U.K.

In some parts of the world, doctors face the difficulty of getting medicine more than once a year. It can also be costly for small communities or expedition groups to replace unused drugs “just in case,” she added.
“The doctor must decide if it is safer to give an out-of-date medication or not treat a condition and hope the person gets better, which is a huge ethical dilemma,” she said. “As we push the boundaries of exploration, for example with missions to Mars, the long-term stability of medications becomes even more important.”

Thank You, Dictionary. That’s Helpful

My uncle has a joke of the day calendar. Every morning, he texts a bunch of us the day’s entry. If it’s a question joke rather than a funny quote or one liner, he only sends us that part and then waits to see how many of us can come up with the right answer. It’s a fun little thing. Sometimes they’re puns, sometimes they’re kid jokes, sometimes they’re clever, sometimes they’re god awful. And now and then, like the last couple of days, they get weirdly intellectual.

Yesterday’s was “Why did Karl Marx dislike Earl Grey tea? Because all proper tea is theft.”

For the record, I didn’t get the answer. But I did groan when I heard it, because I know just enough to understand it.

I love my family, but we’re not necessarily the most well read or cultured bunch you’ll ever meet. Yes, I apply that statement to myself. this is why Carin was left explaining to at least one of us that Karl was not related to Groucho and Harpo.

Today’s is “How many surrealists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?”

I texted in an answer pretty quickly, because I’m pretty sure I’ve heard it before and it’s some nonsense like fish or hammer or trombone.

I haven’t gotten anything back yet, but I have a pretty good feeling it’s going to need some explaining.

So because I’m occasionally proactive, I thought maybe I’d go to the dictionary for some inspiration on how to give a simple explanation should the need arise.

This is what I found.

an artist or writer who is an exponent of the avant-garde movement in art and literature which sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind.
“the wildest fantasies of the European surrealists and dadaists”


I know essentially what a surrealist is, or at least I thought I did. But anyone who Googled it from a place of confusion now has like 17 more words to look up.

Perhaps the second definition will prove more useful.

relating to the avant-garde movement in art and literature which sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind or its exponents.
“Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali”

Yes, rearranging the words to make it into an adjective is the technically correct thing to do, but what in the hell is any of that?

The dictionary is supposed to make things less confusing, not more. The only people who are going to be making any sense whatsoever out of that mess are the ones who don’t need to look it up to begin with.

If I do need to explain it or if you need it explained, use the Wikipedia entry, which is actually written in English.

A Handy Guide To Help You Understand What The Hell Your Kids Are On About

I’ve known it for a long time (since I became an adult, basically), but I am becoming more and more of an old person every day. This fact was just made clear to me once more as I stumbled upon The Old Person’s Guide To Hip Young Modern Lingo.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew a good number of these, but quite a few of them (Based? Cross-faded? Kek?) were news to me.

Handy and informative as this is, my favourite definition is one that I’m pretty sure everyone already knows.

A noun that used to be common in black culture denoting “brother” in a convivial sense but which has shamelessly been appropriated by Caucasians to mean a heterosexual male who is kind of a douchebag. Variants include “bra,” “breh,” “bruv,” “braj,” “Bromosapien,” “Brosephine,” “Bro Montana,” and “Bromosapien.” To give a “brojob” is to pull a prank on a fellow bro. An alternate term is “dudebro.” A “broshi” or “broshki” is a derogatory term denoting a masculine lesbian.

I have no idea why bromosapien is mentioned twice. Perhaps there’s a joke in there that I’m too square to understand. Square, for the benefit of you youngsters, is what you would call lame. You kids still say lame, right?

Let’s Do A Grammar Quiz

The Globe and Mail has put out a grammar quiz. Apparently it’s the third annual, but this is the first time I can recall having seen it.

I did ok. I scored 12 out of 16 which according to them is a well done, but I’m going to go ahead and be mad at myself anyway because it should have been a little higher. There were a couple that straight up caught me, but at least once I hit the button and immediately yelled “dammit!” I can’t be too disappointed though, because at least it means that our country’s best known national newspaper doesn’t consider me a complete idiot.

You can try your hand at it here, and then make fun of me because you scored better than I did even though I’m the one with the website and god I suck below.

Welcome to the third annual Globe and Mail grammar quiz. This list of 16 questions includes spelling, usage and grammatical errors published in The Globe and Mail and noted by our clever readers. It’s a sampling of both common and not-so-common mistakes.
The test is multiple choice. If you score 12 to 14, well done. Higher than that makes you a charter member of The Globe’s good-grammar fan club. Good luck!

If English Were Phonetically Consistent

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said that English is a frustrating, nonsensical language where rules matter until they don’t and that it could seriously due with some consistency. But what if we actually had some of that consistency?

English would sound like it, German and Swedish had a drunken, baby makin’ 3-way, apparently.

Maybe we should just leave things as they are.

The English Language Used To Be Even More Complicated

Did you know that the alphabet used to contain at least ten more letters than it does now? Me neither.

I knew about the long S although my brain started to short circuit a bit when he got into explaining its usage rules, but the rest of these were new to me. And try as I might, I doubt I’ll ever be able to stop pronouncing it “yee” just because it sounds so neat.

Oh, and if we ever start dropping letters again, let me be the first to say C ya later. I’ve never been able to think of a thing that C does that can’t be accomplished with either S or K.

Lost In Translation

Gill is really firing out the posts this week!

It’s kind of funny. I’ve been on both sides of this scenario. There’s my old post about people who don’t speak the language but say “yes” anyway. I had a more recent experience with that. I was in Nashville a few years ago for my awesome job, and at one of the events, a woman was walking around with a tray of sushi. One of my coworkers asked, “What kind of sushi is this?” The woman responded with “Sushi.”
“coworker: What kind?
server: Fish!
Coworker: What kind of fish?
Server: Yes!
At this point, we stopped asking questions and avoided the sushi.

On the other hand, I’ve been the probably stupid-looking person who can’t speak the language. I don’t know how many times I mentioned this, but I spent five weeks in Northern Quebec in an attempt to improve my ability to speak French about 16 years ago, wow do I feel old. While I was there, I painfully learned the lesson that there are multiple words for the same thing. I have only heard the French word for “steps” as “escalier.” But apparently, people say “marches” as well. So one day, when I was really new and particularly tired, I was walking with someone. I may not have been using my cane very well, I don’t remember. At one point, the person I was with said “marches.” I thought they were telling me to keep walking, which perplexed me because I *was* walking, was I not walking fast enough…and at this point I learned with my shins the other meaning of the word “marches.” I tripped over the steps, thankfully they were going up, and looked like a dork.

And don’t get me started on the whole formal and informal “you” when French isn’t your first language. Why can’t they at least start with the same letter so I can bluff a little bit? That first night with my host-mother, I was desperately trying to avoid using you at all, but figured I’d better get on with it, and used the formal, but I was scared of offending her with a single word.

But I should stop talking about my own life. Take it away, Gill!

I have been places where people have yelled at immigrants for messing up orders and directions.  I have often wondered what it would be like not to understand the language or turns of phraise that we as English speakers use freely.

       Slangin It

A few years back my sister worked as a bank manager in Toronto.  She worked with people of all races and backgrounds, some had been born here, but others, like one of her colleagues had left a war torn country.  One day my sister said “could you bring this to me?` he obliged, and asked, “what do I do with this?` to which she responded “oh just plop it on my desk.` the colleague must have been bewildered because his reply was “tell me of this word plop?`

       Not always Universal

Like in the instance above some words or phraises may not make the trip over from English, but this makes for an opportunity to relate and bridge gaps.

       Pass The Compassion

The next time someone mistakes your chicken and spinach salad for something else, don’t resort to uncivilized behavior like racial slurs or telling them to “go back to their country!` just remember that could have just as easily been you.

Ms. Gillie hoping we can work together for a better world