April 2018

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Don't cliticize me!

Cliticize doesn't mean what you think it means. It means to use only a part of a word and to substitute an apostrophe for the rest. In "I'm," for example, 'm is a clitic.

I learned this from Roy Blount, Jr's, book, Alphabet Fruit. Reading the book is more like reading a narrative Oxford English Dictionary, where etymology is especially interesting and amusing. (If you listen to public radio, you may know Roy Blount, Jr. as the cowboy poet.)
I'm learning other good words, too. "Oology" means just what it looks like: the study of eggs. "Ugly" was an old Icelandic word meaning fear.
I also learned from the cowboy poet that google was named for the term "googol." A googol is a large number equal to 10^(10^2)=10^(100) (i.e., a 1 with 100 zeros following it). Written out explicitly,
The term was coined in 1938 by 9-year-old Milton Sirotta, nephew of Edward Kasner (Kasner 1989, pp. 20-27; Bialik 2004). Kasner then extended the term to the larger "googolplex." It should be noted that "googol" is indeed the correct spelling of the term, so the spelling "Google" refers to the internet search engine, not one with 100 zeros.( The Cowboy Poet comments that "Google" is friendlier than "googol." He's a poet because he thinks of things like that.
"You" is, according to the Cowboy Poet, the most common word in English, and "I" is the second most common. He doesn't say what the least common word in English is, but he does point out that English is the only only language in which "I" is capitalized. (unless, of course, you're quoting ee cummings.)
I get irritated with sporscasters, and so does the Cowboy poet. Recently, I've noticed that sportscasters say, "All of a sudden" all the time, even in contexts where that's clearly not true, as in this basketball sportscaster's comment: "All of a sudden, your team is behind by twenty."
The Cowboy Poet criticizes sportscasters (and I would add others) who misuse, "hopefully," and put it any ol' place in the sentence. My poet man says, "Maybe that doesn't bug you, but it bugs me."
The best thing about this comment is his Southern accent, which extends the "u," sort of like, "It buuugs me." Or maybe a googol of u's.
It buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugs me, too, Roy.

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