Category Archives: neo-journalism

Wrongful Language: Misnomer

While fixing my laptop, which was overheating, I discovered the problem was that I was using it on top of my lap. It seems that Compaq laptops are not meant for this purpose, to quote the user manual:

‘To reduce the possibility of heat-related injuries or of overheating the computer, do not place the computer directly on your lap’

So in the case of Compaq, ‘laptop’ is a misnomer, like peanut (which is a bean not a nut) or guinea pig (neither from Guinea nor a type of pig).

This reminded me of some old lyrics I wrote in the early nineties, which use a play on the word ‘miss’ similar to that used by a number of female R&B artists for their stage name:

She likes to think that she’s just a loner,

but I like to call her my little Miss Nomer,

hiding behind that loner persona,

I hope she’s had enough,

and life is getting tough,

I’m hoping that she’s coming around.

She is the one who will go down in history,

the only one to stay a bit of a mystery,

and I am hoping that perhaps she will miss me,

I’m hoping it’s getting rough,

that she’s had enough,

I’m hoping that she’s coming around.


Daily quotes, sayings and proverbs from twitter

Give yourself a daily shot of someone’s wisdom by following one of these twitter feeds: – Literally a feed of lines from The Book of Proverbs in the old testament. –  wide range of regular quotes and sayings – daily quotes from long running – daily generally philosophical quotations – Motivational and famous quotes – famous quotes from – parental wisdom which is sometimes cruel and often rude

Or for pot-luck just search for the quote hash tag

Wrongful Language: may, can, could, should, ought, must

I remember a particularly pedantic Religious Education teacher at school, who if asked, “Can I go to the toilet please” would answer, “I would imagine you are physically able to do that.” Only if you said “May I go?” would he give you premission. Correct a kid in the same way today and I suspect they would look fairly confused.

Similarly, work with a good project manager and you soon learn to be more precise in your use of must, should, could and would (or won’t), particularly if they use the MoSCoW mnemonic as a definition at the beginning of every document they write.

However it is noticable that ought is not included and is slowly leaving the English language. It seems that the duty and obligation implied by ought are no longer relevant. Instead now, you must do it or else, or you should do it to make the most of the opportunity.

The subtle signs of a move away from a polite world of rights and virtues, to one managed by legislation and personal gain.

Wrongful language: tautology

Rather like the opposite of an oxymoron, a tautology is when two words or phrases that mean the same thing ‘combine together ‘ in ‘close proximity’ to create needless repetition at best and total nonsense at worst. The problem is some are so commonly used that to separate them can sound awkward. Here are a few more:

  • free gift
  • serious danger
  • waiting patiently
  • new innovation
  • mutual cooperation
  • original source

Sometimes a writer will claim something, for instance a lying politician or a greedy banker, is a tautology for satirical effect.

Top 13 ironic anagrams

Sentences which include a ‘pair’ of anagrams:

1. Elvis lives

2. The Meaning of Life is the fine game of nil

3. Desperation: a rope ends it

4. Debit card gives bad credit

5. I run to escape a persecution

6. The eyes, they see.

7. The detectives, detect thieves

8. I get stressed about desserts when counting calories.

9. a funeral can be real fun

10. Protectionism can be nice to imports

11. There’s a schoolmaster in the classroom

12. Be silent and listen

13. And being crude is this really her name?


What twitter (and other social networks) really stand for

Further to the post on Backronyms, here are some more social media flavoured ones:

TWITTER – Tracking Which Idiotic Thoughts Take Endless Repeating

TWEET – Talk While Everyone Else Talks
or To Write Every Empty Thought

BLOG – Bilious Load Of Gas

FACEBOOK – For Accessing, Covertly, Embarrassing Behaviour Of Our Kids
or Following Acquaintances Can Easily Become Odd OK!

MYSPACE – Musical Youth Soon Pissed-off As Corporation Enters

FLICKR – Free Lens Into Communal, Kollective Reality (source: snerko)

BEBO – Because Everyone’s Beautiful Online

Better suggestions please…

Wrongful language: backronyms

Backronyms – expanding the letters of an existing word to turn it into an acronym, either in error or for comic effect.

I can remember in school being told (and believing) that ADIDAS really stood for ‘All Day I Dream About Sex’ but according to wikipedia it actually comes from the nickname of the company’s founder Adi Dassler.

Existing acronyms can undergo a similar treatment, with a new meaning applied. This can sometimes leave the original etymology unclear, take for instance the uncertainty over what RSS stands for – is it Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. And technology gives us lots of opportunities to make up more accurate definitions for acronyms and brand names:

  • TWAIN – Technology without an interesting name
  • WWW – World Wide Wait
  • ISDN – It Still Does Nothing
  • ADSL – And Does Still Less
  • PCMCIA – People Can’t Memorize Complex Industrial Acronyms
  • DVD – Defunct video Device
  • DRM – Devil Restricted Music
  • VISTA – Visual Interface Slows Technical Advance
  • APPLE – A Pompously Pretensious Lifestyle Emblem

And I shouldn’t miss out the best known three letter acronym TLA.