Tag Archives: english

English Usage Tip # 479:

    Couldn’t help but notice here on Xanga that even some veteran linguistic heavy-hitters seem a Little be-Leaguered by the confusion surrounding the similar-sounding words, ‘lei’, ‘lie’, and ‘lye’. And so you shouldn’t god forbid drop the ball in front of millions of adoring fans, here is the birds-eye lowdown, in Clip ‘n Save form, on their proper usage:

The verb ‘to lei’ simply means ‘to adorn the neck of a welcome guest, tourist, or other personage with a string of flowers. Ex: “Aloha. Please to smile while I lei you, Ma’am.”  It is an active verb here; the passive form is expressed as ‘getting lei-ed’ , which should not be confused with the variant ‘getting a Leid’ (sic)  which carries the sense of “understanding the german words to a song which generally goes like: ‘This brisk fall air makes me wanna climb a mountain in my leather shorts, but alas, my lover is dead, and this here rose weeps for our eternity lost… etc.'”
To ‘lie’, on the other hand
, is to tell a tall tale, to fabricate a phony garment from whole cloth. “I lie, constantly; yesterday I lied, and tomorrow, god willing, I shall continue to lie.” One who lies is known as a ‘liar’. He may profess to be a ‘lyre’, but don’t believe him, as a lyre makes an entirely different sound.

And finally, the verb ‘to lye’ means: “to bathe someone or some thing in caustic soda; sodium hydroxide to be exact”. Please be aware of any aluminum jewelry worn by the victim, as the hydrogen gas evolved by the exothermic reaction can be flammable. The past tense can be tense; Ex: “Where is your hair?” “Oy, yesterday I lyed a guy and it didn’t turn out well.” “Ja wohl, das tut mir lied..Gibts etwas anderes neues?

As you can see, caution is the byeword in proper usage, so be careful, und bye for now


    Somewittyhandle said some nice things about my site. (I just happened to be the first in line; one of, I hope, a long and varied line-up of short descriptions of xangans and their unique attributes.). A premium idea for an entry, a little tense maybe, like looking in the mirror, at my age, but at least we’re listening to a well-built mirror.
    The issue of “he’s over my head” did come up, and I wanted to go on record, forcefully, here, with my frantic plea: “It ain’t, and if it is, I didn’t put it there, not on purpose anyway..” I may adopt a “stars” system, (or maybe I’ll use little step-ladder icons) to indicate posts which are:
1) straightforward as all get-out, intended for Three’s Company TV fans,  or
2) Medium overheadedness, no math, no lit-puns, no foreign tongues, or, gourd-forbid: 
3) ‘Extension-ladder posts’, which, through no fault of my own, I’ll probably die not knowing exactly what the point was. (See, we’re all in the same boat, haha). So come back, one and all, even Greenray. His Bertrand Russell tromps my caterpillar-pix any day, for depth. In fact, I’m tromped by most of the sites I read, except maybe in the ‘quirky’ category. Enough. 
   Now to a few quick brief transitory ephemeral thoughts: (and yeah, I don’t know what ‘ephemeral’ means.. I just liked the way it sounds. Oops, my secret’s out)
1) Decided to bypass “Truthiness” and also my fave, “Insightiness” in favor of “All-truistic ©”. It’s already got audience-acceptance; all we gotta do is start using it in its new meaning, say, once a day and Bingo!, I’m in Webster’s ©, (the thick one with the “first-use” citations.) Of course I don’t mind if someone else gets the credit.. whatever’s in the common best interest, I say. Reactionary me.
2) I missed Sir Rebrum Smyth’s wedding. He married Sarah Bellem in a gala ‘meeting of minds’. Heard the whole ganglia was there, but the invitation I got was like, “over my head” and I never figured out what they were talking about till a week after the event. Damn.
3) And here’s a little remedial English lesson. It’s aimed at kids of all ages, and rated “Duh?”
  Positively indefinite article.
   There’s a big difference between “a mouse” and “the mouse“. “A mouse” could be just about anyone.. with a tail and cute ears. But “the mouse“, well, we know him.. he’s been mentioned, talked about, maybe introduced. Definitely. He could be “over here“. in which case he’s “this mouse“, or alternatively, “over there“, which makes him “that mouse“. QOD. But in either case, we may still have a problem.

    He may be using, by fiat and whim, a rare connotation, in which “The Mouse” has him standing in for the whole furtive species: “What does House Bill R-211 mean for “the mouse?“. Will they benefit, or lose status/cheese/voting-rights/etc?. Now an unknown cat could be brought in to ‘solve‘ the problem, speaking euphemistically. We’d have A cat and the mouse”. Or of course we could use a ‘familiar feline’, (one who’d been previously ‘mentioned’ {see above}, on orders to just randomly lash out at the first unknown mouse it sees. This would be, gramatically speaking, The cat and a mouse”.
Barring that, we could of course deal verbally with the problem… Curse him: “Damn, that mouse!”, or praise him: “What a mouse!” or even damn him with faint praise: “Not a bad mouse, I suppose, considering..”
    “Considering what!”
    “Hey, he speaks!”
    “Excuse me, it’s ‘she‘ speaks!”
    “Oops, sorry, I just assumed, you know, since you’re the leader of a world-power..
    “We will bury you!”
    “Hmm.. didn’t work the last time, but this time you got four shoes..”
    “Yes Capezios ™, in ‘power-pink’.. not a bad accessory-choice, considering.. my humble upbringing..”
And on that confront-tutu-torial note we must up-bring this lesson down for its 10K service. (The rest of the dialogue was over both of our heads, trust me). Just remember, “the” mouse by any other name is just “a” mouse. Pop-quiz on Tuesday.


    Yesterday I read that lead is in the lead as a factor in children who seem to read slowly. Dr. Benjamin Reed‘s article, “Leading Lead Bullets” in the U of Leeds Bulletin, led me to believe that this issue should raise a red flag.
   “But indeed, until we rid English, in a radical sense, of these rude road-blocks, a slow ride is almost inevitable, no matter how ruddy the flag or tall be its rod.”

This short spoof makes a small point about the confusing spelling and pronunciation in English. It’s just to read and consider, (until one of us gets appointed “Minister of Funny Spellings” with full administrative powers.)
Short poem-of-the-day:

There be rhymes, I suppose, in my prose… and a subtle reminder of meter. It puts the ducks all in rows, not to mention the crows, as a gift to the over-worked reader.
No comments necessary.. *whew*

Hmm.. This post needs some colour:

500 lloyd


So what’s a nosegay? You know, or are ya just guessing?

    This piece should have as its main attraction its brevity. Let’s hope. All I wanna know is: “What’s a ‘nosegay?” Yeah, I could look it up. But I won’t. Honest. Not till I hear from my reader(s). And if I won a million bucks in some lottery, that’s what I’d do.. commision a survey, a poll. See, I want to know whether anybody else knows what it is, and like, whether this is something a well-dressed man-of-letters (such as moi, por ejemplo) is ‘supposed to know!.

    The tactics would be all-important. Figure we’d have to hit and get out in less than three hours, so the ‘respondents’ don’t get a chance to call each other or the press. 5000 amateur pollsters, they could hit maybe a hundred homes or individuals each. I’d give ’em fifty bucks apiece. That’s a quarter million right there. They’d need to be sworn to secrecy.. maybe give out the magic word at the last second. Wouldn’t go all-out for a representative-sample.. we’re not gonna get peer-review in the Journal of Am. Nosegays. We’ll say, a quarter rural, a quarter small-town, and the other half, big-city plus mall-locations. Like to wind up shelling out somewhere between five and six hundred thousand. That’d leave me enough for a little house somewhere and a new pair of shoes. My friends’d probably say I squandered the money.. on something ‘trivial’. Hey I decide what’s trivial. Could be a nosegay’s trivial, ok, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask.

  And while you’re not looking it up, see here I’m seriously working on being the aforementioned  “Man of Letters”. Two proofs-of-intent, one ‘stolen’ by a ‘friend’ and published already as if he’d written it…forgot to scribble “copyright” on it, I guess, and the second, a true-life story of sibling-relations and big bucks, the latest dope on Esther and Dieter.

U-ness and V-ness,they work in the dark/
In the old Black Light District, or down in the Park/
tryin’ to ‘R-ness the P-ness in the service of ‘green-ness’, with a
UV-Protection” trade-mark.

Now U-P got up-tight, so V-P filled in.
RU-four eighty-six keeps ’em both thin
An RV‘s an option that’s up for adoption, yeah
‘Service-on-wheels’ with a grin

It’s got new VU meters and PV cells too, but
PR‘s a problem; the press say’s “PU!” They go:
UR what VR all dreaming about, but
RP‘s and our Q’s say “Nu nu!”

From “Latex in Literature: Stretching the Truth“, by L. Tez Aachen  in the July ’07 edition of “Women Swear Daily”, a Condem-Nasty Pubication.

Ballad of D-ter and S-ter

S-ter, stuffed with I-der down’s been throwing X-ter weight around
She B-der competition with her “Q-ter O-der E-ter”.
So D-ter’s got to K-ter to his L-der sister now, he seems to
T-ter on the edge between ‘auf V-der sehen’ and ‘ciaou’
“A Y-der C-der closet, S-ter? Put that on my tab..”
A spot on David Letterman? I’ll run and call a cab.” He says: “You’re
one-derfull, your two-dor house on Gu-three Ave is just ‘to die four’
If-five been acting strange, don’t take it literally, O-K?

exciting conclusion* Yes, I just looked it up: “a small bouquet of flowers… origin of the word in the Middle Ages.. used to keep the nose ‘gay’. So two points for both my respondents. Now if I can just get anybody to read the poems..

“A Seer’s Worse Nightmare!”

    A couple weeks ago I noticed upon signing-out that Xanga’s front-page was recommending I read their Featured Content post, adorned with at least one hundred comments, and with the title “A Mother’s Worse Nightmare!” I decided to comply for at least three reasons:
1) It’s an unavoidable fact of life that a Human like me should try to keep abreast on Nightmares, in order to avoid or prevent them. Who knows what horror she might be describing in this post?
2) That having been said, I also wanted to see an example of the kind of high-quality writing which merited not one, not two, but yes, hundreds of “Great post, Yonatan!” reactions.
3) And barring that, I was just dying to know whether anyone else had had any ‘issues‘ with the title, or whether it had even perhaps been meant ironically.. you know: “Shitty Grammar, a mom’s worst dream-come-true!” or “Why Mommy can’t write!”
  Well, with ever-increasing relief I trudged through the entry until it was obvious that this particular ‘Nightmare’, (finding a breath-mint on the floor and freaking out, thinking your 12 year-old daughter was hooked on Ecstacy or Herion {sic}) was possibly..um.. ‘over-sold’.
   And speaking of oversold, Sears and Roebuck®, one of the mail-order catalog firms which supplied our shopping needs in the ’50s, often sold three versions of a product: Sears’ ‘Good’, Sears’ ‘Better’, and of course, for people who didn’t look or smell like us, Sears’ ‘Best’, each with its own price tag and list of features. (The ‘Good’ radio, for example, had a tone-control, but it was just painted on. The ‘Better’ model’s tone control turned around, but didn’t do anything, and the Blue-bloods who shelled out big bucks for ‘Sears’ Best’, got, I suppose, (never having met them personally), ‘highs and lows to die for’.)
   Back to the Nightmare. Having dispatched my duty on points one and two, I now read through, I believe, 171 comments, searching (in vain) for anyone who’d ‘stolen’ my grammarian thunder.  I’d prepared to comment: “.. and a good thing it was only ‘a mother’s ‘worse ‘nightmare; next time it might be ‘worst’!”, but decided to desist, to let sleeping dogs lie or lay eggs, whatever. Their they’re, in there xangas, bless their illiterate little hearts, and I’m he’re, for good, better or best. If they’re content with that content, who am I to be a whiner-of-my-discontent.

   But I am going to do a post someday, which I desperately hope will finally make “Featured Content“, with the title, “A Seer’s Worse Nightmare!”, in which I shall rank-order the following horrific scenes:
1) Seer’s Bad Nightmare: Includes one Starter-prediction, and one(1) fake nose-and-mustache disguise to aid you in getting out of town incognito should the prophesy not come true. Only $2.99 plus tax and shipping.
2) Seer’s Worse Nightmare: Costing only $5.99, this improved model gives you five assorted predictions, some of which may certainly come true. The disguise now includes a wig, for enhanced get-away power, plus wait, you also receive a small ‘crystal-ball’ made from space-age high-imact plastic with the look of genuine crystal, to add predictive ‘punch‘ to your demonstrations.
3) The Seer’s Worst Nightmare, for $39.99, just says ‘Call for details’. I can only hope, as a life-long sour-grapes-man, that the rich-kid wimps whose parents shelled out the big bucks got a simple letter, declaring, in imitation-gold-embossed lettering, “We predict you will shortly be reading page 1197 of our latest Spring/Summer Catalog, where the fine print outlines our ‘no-return on seer-related products’ policy. The official size-and-weight dunce cap you received can be exchanged, though, at your nearest convenient retail outlet. Please have your choice of fabric ready; the postage-stamp-sized swatches provided will help you choose between ‘olive‘, ‘navy‘, or the ever-popular, ‘black’. And thank you for shopping Seers.”

sears seer scene

‘less clicks/ more stupid’.. good thing there’s “PsychoPaths”

    Well I been seeing red, linguistically-speaking, lately. Probably why I’m going nuts. It’s all related, you know. My on-line Bank of Fooltown just announced their ‘New Look’ web page.. “now, with “Less clicks”.(sic). And (sic) means exactly what you thought: It does make me sick to think I’m paying ill-illiterates to count my money, sad-sacks who’ve given up on ‘clicks as ‘un-countable’ and have determined that saying fewer clicks’ would therefore be as inappropriate as saying, for example, “Bank with us: we’re fewer stupid!” I’d take my money out, if I had enough to be worth the postage.
  And to rub salt in my wounds, my medical coverage here in the Holey Land! ® only covers, (for ‘limited means‘ cases like me), a ‘short list’ of mental-health providers. Full of loathing, fire, pyro-phobia and fear of loathing, I scanned the list yesterday. Only one entry:
“Psycho-Paths… we’re behind you on your journey!”.
“Yeah, hiding behind trees with sharpened sticks“, I thought.
“See details page 61”, it said. Ok, I just might do that..
Many ways to go nuts; shouldn’t there be many paths to come back?” Can’t argue there.. in principle. Of course it’s a question, not a statement of fact.
“Yes, but are there?” I prepared myself to ask them, on my first (free?) evaluation session.
“Nope, we’re just sayin’ there oughta be.” I can hear it already.
    Didn’t go as badly as I expected, to tell the truth. I even appreciated their “Which nuts are you?” approach, it’s so resonant with my particular elitist angst that I found myself looking around the room for the hidden camera.
“A match struck in Heaven, them and me”, I thought, and also checked the ceiling, wondering why they still use matches in heaven.. I mean, isn’t this the glorious “Let there be lighters!” guy we’re talking about? So, anyway, no cameras on the ceiling either.. just these funny little spout-looking thingies and when I held a match up to one of ’em, all of a sudden it started to rain. Just kidding.. I’m nuts, remember.
   So here’s their buzz-sheet, check it out, and maybe tell me “Which nuts am you?”

(And for you “Read my Subs” mouth-breathers, enjoy staring at {Image Here}! You’ll never know what all the fuss is about… what, you thought it was a ‘smiley‘? I don’t do smileys. Well, not often.


lying and getting laid, clarified:

First the Facts. Later we’ll have some fun.
“Lay” is the present tense of the common english verb whose meaning is roughly “to put or place”.
“Put or place what?” I hear you saying. Great. You just proved my point. ‘Lay” needs an object, a victim, something that gets laid somewhere. That’s why it’s called a ‘transitive’ verb. Here is the most basic example-chart I can think of, using “lay”, both today, continuously in the past, and yes, just yesterday, as I recall.
1) Today Bossie lays her head in my lap. (Sometimes she and her sister Bessie both lay their heads in my lap.)
2) Bossie has always laid her head in my lap.
3) For example, just yesterday I met Bossie for brunch and you know what, she laid her head in my lap.

There is an entirely different verb (I wish!) known as “lie”. Its meaning is: to kinda collapse, but gracefully, letting gravity do its thing, until, you guessed it, you are “lying” down.
“Lie what?” I don’t hear anybody ask. Once again, great! That’s ’cause it’s assumed that it’s the subject who is “lying down”. And again with the bovines:
1) Bossie lies down every time I try to milk her.
2) Yesterday, I tried to milk her, and whadya know, she “lay” down.
3) In fact, this cussed cow has lain down every damn time I ever tried to milk her. Wonder what the price of beef is this week!

Yeah, you noticed, the past tense (yesterday) of “lie” is, confusingly, “lay”. Sucks. But it’s not my fault.

Now back to “lay” the transitive verb for a brief reprise, but this time as a passive verb. That’s right, a ‘backwards’ construction, where the subject is ‘acted upon’ by its own trusted verb. Here’s a more passive Bossie, if that can be imagined:

1) Bossie, sold for beef, is being “laid’ on the cutting table. Gross, I know.
2) ..as her mother was similarly “laid‘ out, some years ago, if I recall correctly. Runs in families, this obstinate ‘ewigsheidichkeit
3) I fully expect that Bossie’s daughter will at some point need to be laid out.

A lot of ‘Laids“, I know. Reminds me of the time I came in to work and my boss, who I assume hadn’t gotten laid for a while, laid into me vociferously about some imagined grievance. Although I tactfully laid out a water-tight defence, alas, it was to no avail, as the very next day I found myself laid off. Oh well, the guy was a tramp.. and a ‘laid-y’ one at that. The only linguistic conclusion I reached is that, no matter when it happens, getting laid is getting laid. Thank you. And now a more graphic presentation:


lie explained