Mismatched Birthday Candles

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 6:59 PM | Filed under

I'm at Bartell Drugs, looking at birthday candles. Why oh why are the nines a different color than all the other numbers? What could have brought this about?

What It Is, Is Annoying

Sunday, August 16, 2009 at 7:40 PM | Filed under

I've noticed an annoying speech pattern lately. What it is, is people are using superfluously wordy noun phrases which usually result in the speaker saying "is" twice in a row. The previous sentence is an example of such a pattern. Here are a few more examples I found on the Net:

"...it is not a self help book. What it is is a sampling of what makes people happy and why." (Amazon review)

"Tell us exactly what happened this morning" — "What it was, was that the Beetle and the suspect in the car came and pulled in..." (KCAL 9 news report)

"The Cosmic Game comes across as fresh as a debut and surprisingly indifferent toward being the in thing. What it is is music for music's sake, all laid out with the utmost care..." (Music review)

I've seen it with and without the comma. These clumsy constructions likely come about because people lead themselves into their sentences before they know what they're going to say. It's redundant to include all those words. In most cases I see or hear, a simple noun would fill in rather easily as the sentence's subject. Usually, "What it is, is" can be simplified to "It is".

Confusion over Abbreviations Rule in Word Game

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 2:16 PM | Filed under ,

In the word game Quiddler, players are dealt a hand of cards, each with a letter or two, and the goal is to rearrange the cards so that they form words. On Saturday, I was playing the game with some relatives: Carla, Shelly, and Russell. In one round, Shelly played the word "ad." Russell challenged her play of the word, pointing out in the game instructions that abbreviations are not allowed, and that "ad" is an abbreviation of "advertisement."

We turned to the electronic Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (our family's agreed-upon dictionary—we use it for Boggle and other word games) and found it in there, of course. Russell, however, referred us to the entry in a large print dictionary for "ad," and pointed out that next to the word was an indication that the word is an abbreviation. He then referred us back to the point in the Quiddler rules that abbreviations are not allowed.

I understood his point, but my argument for allowing the word ran along the lines that while being short for "advertisement," "ad" has become a word itself through common usage. It seems that we all discussed this for no less than ten minutes, and Russell didn't seem to care that the word was present in the Scrabble dictionary because it's an abbreviation either way. It got to the point that Shelly withdrew the word herself and asked to just take the 7-point penalty. (The word wasn't even worth very many points!)