Category: wording and grammar

Nov 12 2014

What Do You Call A Person Who Assaults People?

No, that’s not the start of a bad joke. We’re actually curious.

Carin and I were having breakfast and chatting as usual when I made a comment that somebody was “a rapist at worst and an…assaulter? at best.” It occurred to us that if there’s a word for someone who commits assaults, neither of us knows it, and that it’s kind of weird that we wouldn’t if it exists. And if it doesn’t exist, why doesn’t it? We have words for all kinds of other criminals, so how did assault find itself left out? Just off the top of my head I can come up with rapist, burglar, murderer, strangler, fraudster, voyeur, robber and thief, and that’s by no means a complete list I’m sure. It’s just what I could do without thinking hard. Is the problem that assault is too broad a category? It does seem like a catch -all type term for a lot of things (punching, kicking, spitting, sometimes even stabbing), so maybe that’s it. But maybe there’s an assaulter, assaultist, assaultizer, assaultrix, assaultinator or even an assaulthief floating around in some dictionary or criminal code somewhere that nobody uses anymore. If there is, we’d like to know about it.

Oct 14 2014

Accessible Voting In The Waterloo Region: Here Are All Your Options…I Think…

I usually don’t wait until the day before advanced polling starts to put up a link to accessible stuff around the region, but a. Captain Nameless Illness is making me work really slow, and b. We’re still figuring out this huuuge city, so didn’t have much of a clue. So, it took longer to make sense of the info that was available.

But here it is. I would have been lazy and linked to this one beautiful page that had things consolidated in one handy place, but their page didn’t have Cambridge on it, the information looked slightly wrong, and commenting required you to respond to an inaccessible CAPTCHA. Way to go, Independent Living Centre Waterloo Region, way to go. *clapclapclap*. I should amend that, at least they’re looking into alternatives, but um? How wasn’t this caught sooner? How long have they been wandering along with that CAPTCHA up there?

And while I’m dealing out sarcastic applause, I give one to the City of Kitchener’s election page for posting the “voter’s guide to an accessible election,” a document that clearly states that the guide is for the clerk’s use, and to use the sections that are correct for their city/town, and to not make the whole guide available to the voters, like they did here. Woooo! Hehehehehe! Good job!

So, I’m going to have to find all the info for each city myself and assemble it here.

Which is proving more difficult than I thought.


On the City of Kitchener’s voter information page, there is a heading of “special needs” which appears to have most of the necessary information. However, they don’t mention a detail that I read about greeters being available to open external non-accessible doors if necessary, or the part where if you brought a buddy with you to vote, you’d have to take an oath that you were unable to vote on your own. Um, gross?

The skinny is all polling stations are mostly wheelchair accessible, unless of course the outside doors don’t have buttons to open them, but if you want to use those accessible voting machines, you have to go to one of the five advance voting spots linked to under “advance voting”.


So…I hope RIM Park is easy to get to, because if you need an interpreter or one of those accessible voting machines and live in Waterloo, that’s where you’re goin’, sucka. Also, I hope if you need an interpreter, your job doesn’t mind you scootin’ out between 2 and 4 in the afternoon. Blech. Also, what’s up with the line “Voters with disabilities are encouraged to vote at advance voting locations where assistance is available.”

As opposed to those barren wastelands of nothingness. Maybe a comma could have cleared that up, i.e. don’t vote on election day like the unwashed masses, you disabled voter you. Or maybe, like I thought, it meant go where the service you require is. Or maybe, like I alternatively thought, it meant don’t go to some of the advance polling locations…we staff those with lazy arseholes!

More info can be found on this Waterloo where to vote page.

Cambridge, poor, little, left out in the cold Cambridge

But you’re a rather progressive little out in the cold city! You, unlike the rest of the region, think folks with disabilities should be able to vote using assistive voting equipment on election day. And, and, people in Cambridge can vote by phone and online! Yes!

with the caveat that blind folks might wanna vote by phone, since according to this KW Record article, the online version has a whole lot of CAPTCHA goin’ on. You also might want to get your 13-digit PIN from your voter card written down since no PIN, no votin’.

For all the juice on Cambridge election options, here’s their page on voting options. I don’t like the not so nice touch of having every supplementary document available in pdf, but at least the viewer has a download option, so whatever.

Aaack. That took far more effort than I originally bargained for. But at least I could have fun with it. Hopefully I manage to post this without breaking my links. Apparently today, concentration isn’t my strong suit and things I could do in my sleep before are a bit of a struggle.

Everybody, if a municipal election is coming up, get out and vote. There’s gotta be a way to do it that works for you.

Aug 14 2014

Learning The Coolest

We have a guest contribution from Gill for the first time in a little while. She’s right. Learning English is hard enough when it’s your first language let alone your second, and slang just adds to the…fun?

Canada’s Cool Factor

We are a nation of immigrants, so whether you are the son of Cambodian refugees, or the daughter of ninth generation Canadians, we all came from somewhere

“What The Smerf?`

A very good friend of mine came from Pakistan in 1981 at the age of five, and she told me that she learned around 90% of her English by watching things such as The Barba Papas, and the Smerfs. It has been said that that is a great way to learn English, and lets not forget the cool factor.

Plop It Down, but don’t give me The stink eye

What those ESL classes don’t teach is the commonly used slangs. My sister worked as a bank manager in Toronto, and was enveloped by a plethora of nationalities. One time around Christmas her financial advisor, who had immigrated from Iraq had a document and asked her where to put said document. Heather looked at him and replied, “oh just plop it on my desk.` Having only been in Canada a couple of years he asked, “tell me about this word plop?`

The lady who cleans my house is from Serbia, and has only lived in Canada three years. Her English although improving is still quite limited. Recently I told her “with Elora gone there’s no one to give you the stink eye.` She smiled with the smile of the genuinely confused, so I explained that the stink eye was just another way of saying dirty looks.


Put yourself in their shoes, and imagine what it would be like to learn another language. Also give yourself the opportunity to teach someone the cool way, yes those general things are good, but plop some slang in as well.

Jul 31 2014

Homophones Are So Gay! Oh, And You’re Fired

Today in perhaps you should be enrolling in the school instead of running it: Language School Blogger Fired for Writing About Homophones

A social media specialist for a Utah language school that teaches English to non-native speakers says he was fired for writing a blog post about homophones—words that sound the same, but carry different meanings—because his boss was afraid readers would think it was about “gay sex.”

Tim Torkildson told the Salt Lake Tribune that shortly after his lesson went up, Nomen Global Language Center owner Clarke Woodger fired him, complaining “now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality.”

“I had to look up the word” Woodger said, according to the account Torkildson published on his personal blog, “because I didn’t know what the hell you were talking about. We don’t teach this kind of advanced stuff to our students, and it’s extremely inappropriate. Can you have your desk cleaned out by eleven this morning? I’ll have your check ready.”

And believe it or not, the boss confirmed that he really is this stupid.

“People at this level of English,” Woodger told the Tribune, “may see the ‘homo’ side and think it has something to do with gay sex.”

Credit for not rushing out a standard, see through denial, I suppose.

And just to add another layer of dumbassitude to a situation that should be crumbling under the weight of more than enough of it already, the report also points out that the school’s blog contains a post about homophones…written in 2011. Some fine quality control work, Lou.

Jul 17 2014

Word Crimes

Weird Al released a new album this week. It’s called Mandatory Fun, and you can buy it on his website, among other places. He’s been putting songs on YouTube to promote it, and this one’s the best of the bunch, no contest. “Weird Al” Yankovic – Word Crimes

In case you’ve somehow been fortunate enough to have never heard it, that’s a parody of a shitty song called Blurred Lines performed by a fellow named Robin Thicke, who’s most recent claim to fame is spectacularly shitty album sales.

Mar 21 2014

Heds Will Roll: Where All The Headlines That Should Be In The Newspapers Go

When Carin and I write news stories, we can pretty much call them whatever the hell we want. But sadly, our “real reporter” friends don’t enjoy that same degree of editorial freedom. So it’s nice to see that there exists a place where all of the clever/funny/that’s just wrong headlines I know for a fact they have in them can live on and be enjoyed. Heds Will Roll

It reads like a list of titles we’d totally use, which means we must be doing something right…right? Please tell us we’re doing *something* right.

It’s hard to pick a current favourite of the ones I’ve seen, but I’m somewhat partial to this one:

Eton Trifles
A tabloid item on Paul Weller, the former singer of The Jam, being photographed outside a pub after gaining some weight

In case you don’t get it, The Jam ~ Eton Rifles

Simple, yet effective and with just the slightest tinge of cruelty. Near perfect, I say.

Dec 08 2013

Can A Period Mean Somebody Is Mad At You? Yes, But That Has Nothing To Do With Text Messages

Do me a favour. Read this article all about how periods at the ends of sentences in text messages now mean that you’re angry at the person you’re writing to and see if it makes any sense to you, because I understand about 0 of it.

Honest to god, in a million years I would not have been able to think this up. Where did it come from? It just all feels so arbitrary. They seem to be using the argument that it’s all about people’s inability to detect the intended tone in writing, but if that’s the case, why does it only apply to texts? Using this logic, shouldn’t every email be an angry one? Is everything in the newspaper, no matter what it’s about, written by someone who is unhealthily upset? And what about books? Don’t even get me started on books. So many sentences, so many blood pressure related deaths just waiting to happen.

and what of all the other punctuation marks nobody is using anymore? If periods mean anger, what sort of evil is signified by the poor, forgotten apostrophe? Is my proper use of a comma actually saying “I’m going to come over to your house and blow a load in your eye?” It must be something like that, because surely we’d all be happy to write in complete sentences if periods weren’t meany marks.

I know I’m talking nonsense right now, but these guys started it. Of course periods mean finality, because the sentence is over. Feel free to start a new one, you know, as if you’re a human being with even the faintest grasp of how a conversation works. If you need clarification, ask for it.

And did it ever occur to any of these people that maybe all the shorthand and digital chicken scratch might be part of the problem? When all of your thoughts just sort of run together in a giant jumble of what the hell is that supposed to say, of course tone is going to be hard to pick out. This feels like one of those problems that phones with full keyboards should have solved by now.

It’s not innovation. It’s laziness. It’s partly convenience, but it’s laziness and an excuse for it when you get right down to it. If it were simply a necessary adjustment required to facilitate clearer SMS communication, a whole lot of the internet wouldn’t look anything like it does. End of story. Period.

Sep 26 2013

What Kind Of Name Is Decadent Chocolate Chip For A Cookie, Anyway

Speaking of Dave Nichol, Carin wondered this morning while we were talking about him why you would ever call a cookie decadent, since decadent means decaying. I said I was pretty sure that it also meant something like sinful or pleasing, but she wasn’t convinced. Well, I looked it up. There’s decay and moral decline in there as expected, but there’s also this:

:  characterized by or appealing to self-indulgence (decadent pleasures)

Who are you to doubt the President, Carin?

May 02 2013

This Wasn’t Even A Halfway Decent Idea

If I were in the position to make such a call, there’s almost no way I would have authorized this particular readiness drill.

A school district in Oregon is catching some flak after it recently sicced two masked gunmen loaded with blank on a meeting room full of teachers as part of a surprise “readiness drill” for an active shooter scenario.
The two men burst into the meeting room at Pine Eagle Charter School in Halfway last Friday and opened fire on the teachers within.
After several long moments, the terrorized teachers realized the shooting was staged since they weren’t, well, being shot to death.

Forget all the people in that room, though I’m sure they were scared shitless and thankfully none of them had a bad heart that was just waiting to give up the ghost. What I want to know is how they convinced two guys to act as the shooters. Here in Canada I might give some fleeting consideration to playing the part before telling you you’re out of your mind, but in the States? There’s no fucking way! Half the population is armed either legally or otherwise as it is, and depending on where you are your school district may soon be passing measures to ensure that all of the teachers are carrying guns. And to slap a big, steaming cherry on the dumbshit sundae that is this story, one of those districts just so happens to be this one. Nice going, guys.

On a side note, I love you Gawker, I really do. but Jesus H the typos! You’ve got a staff and your company is worth several million dollars. Pay somebody to look things over before they go public, would ya?

Apr 30 2013

Why Spam Comments Look So Ridiculous

A question I hear a lot is why does email and comment spam look the way it does? I’ll admit, I never had a perfect answer. Poor automatic translations is the best I’ve come up with, and while there’s certainly got to be some truth to that (Have you ever tried to use Google Translate to speak to somebody in his own language?), I know it’s not the only thing at work here.

But Mental Floss, as it often does, seems to have it figured out.

These days, in order to get through the filters, a comment should not only look plausible, but avoid repeating itself over a large swath of blog comment space.
One way to avoid repeating the same comment over and over without having to write thousands of different original comments is to replace the words in one comment with various synonyms. Recently, a spammer accidentally posted an entire spam template to Scott Hanselman’s blog, where you can see how this synonym substitution works. For example, one comment template reads:
I {want to|wish to|desire to} {read|learn} {more|even more}
{things|issues} {approximately|about} it!
“Approximately” and “about” are indeed synonyms (“He is {approximately | about} six feet tall”), but not in this context. This is why so many of these template-generated comments look so odd. As many freshman writing seminar instructors can attest, automatic thesaurus substitution is a dangerous thing.

the article goes on to give several examples of this in action, and it all makes perfect sense. But what still doesn’t is how it can be that an otherwise reasonable person can get something that looks like this in his inbox out of the blue from the Nigerian prince and part with hundreds of thousands of dollars without a second thought. Get on that one, Mental Floss.

Alibi3col theme by Themocracy

© 2003-2015 vomit comet All Rights Reserved.