'relateable' has made its way from sophomore girls to everywhere all the time. i am against it, on the grounds that that 'relate' needs the preposition ('to'). so it sounds very wrong: your need 'relatable-to,' which would itself be a nightmare. for that matter 'relate' - as in 'i relate' - was like a seventies fad, and it's not itself my favorite usage. 'connect' is better. but if you have to, i would not say 'mitt romney is not relateable,' i would say people find it difficult to relate, or rather connect, to him. or people don't like him.
The exclamation cheese!, often written jeez!, is definitely a euphemism for Jesus! But the word in the sense you give isn’t from that source.
Cheese it! means either to be silent (“Will you cheese it! I don’t want to hear!”) or to stop what you are doing, presumably something illegal or inappropriate, or to leave or run away. The expression is now virtually defunct, but it turns up often enough in older writing, as you say, that it’s not entirely unknown even now.
It was originally British slang of the early nineteenth century, but was later taken to the US — it turns up, for example, in a story in O Henry’s The Voice of the City, published in 1908: “The defence of Mr Conover was so prompt and admirable that the conflict was protracted until the onlookers unselfishly gave the warning cry of ‘Cheese it — the cop!’” It’s also in The Inimitable Jeeves by P G Wodehouse, published in 1923: “He had been clearing away the breakfast things, but at the sound of the young master’s voice cheesed it courteously.” The first example occurs in James Hardy Vaux’s A New and Comprehensive Vocabulary of the Flash Language of 1812. Flash at the time referred to men associated with disreputable sports such as boxing and generally to thieves, tramps, and prostitutes, so flash language was the cant or slang of criminals.
Vaux said that cheese it meant to keep quiet or to stop, desist or leave off doing something. What he actually wrote was that it meant the same as stow it, which Vaux explained as “an intimation from a thief to his pall, to desist from what he is about, on the occasion of some alarm.” This is a much older expression that comes from the idea of putting cargo in ship’s storage and shutting the hatches.
Unfortunately, we don’t have such a simple explanation for cheese it. It might have been a version of cease. Jonathon Green, in the Cassell Dictionary of Slang, also points to an old proverb, after cheese comes nothing, which refers to cheese being the last item in a meal. This sounds more than a little literary and stretched, but perhaps the proverb was well enough known then that it made sense just to say “cheese!”
i'm not working for bread. i'm working for cheese.
this blog will be makin models out of strippers, makin water out of liquor.
one sign of the profound decline of our society - and of course the most important one - is that people just continually use the wrong prepositions. i don't remember this as a pervasive problem up until the last few years, and i'm not sure how to explain it. i see it on student papers, more or less in every sentence. but you see/hear it all the time in the msm too.
but: try teaching it; there are no general principles, just common sense, sensitivity to context, and relentless literacy. so i'm gonna start pillorying mistakes here, i guess. "egypt says israel apology of troop deaths is insufficient" (cnn screen scroll). 'for,' not 'of,' surely. if that's one too many characters for your scroll, 'on' is ok.
the first thing you cnn interns should do is start trying it in somewhat different constructions. 'i would like to apologize to you of that," e.g. but maybe that sounds right to a cnn intern too. basically, these are esl-type problems; perhaps we are raising a generation of white korean-americans. on the other hand, to apply a test like this, you'd have to suspect that you might have it wrong, which you can't if you've got no frigging idea, and no frigging idea that you've got no frigging idea, due to pathological self-esteem.
one thing that bothers me - though i'm also capable of getting it wrong - is the use of the nominative case of the pronoun in situations where the objective case is called for: "frieda met with james and i,' for example (should be 'james and me'). 'debbie bought the napalm for she and i' ('her' or 'herself and me'). i seem to hear this more and more, and see it in writing, too, even among, um, professors. what bothers me is that it's pseudo-educated: wrong, yet pretentious. it comes from a punctilious observation of grammatical correctness, leading ironically to error. in fact, i find it easier to tolerate the opposite mistake, which i used to throw down habitually: 'her and me went to the weapons outlet': obviously wrong, but proceeding from an intention to be non-pretentious, slangy.
for some reason, every media outlet favors the formulation 'forces loyal to moammar gaddafi,' as also to assad or mubarak. i think they should stop reading minds. it seems particularly odd with regard to libya, where a goodly portion of gaddafi's force evidently consists of mercenaries. and 'loyalty' is actually the name for a virtue: i notice that carmelo anthony - who had an amazing game against the celtics last night - has it tattooed on his arm. but his approach is stop snitchin, which i sort of doubt is at the heart of the practice of assad 'loyalists.'
anyway, just go for 'the forces of moammar gaddafi.' it's neutral, shorter, and picks out the same people.
america's political class need to hire roget as a consultant. i don't think i can take another orderly transition or any more legitimate aspirations. my main argument for anarchism is that then these people (or perhaps cleverly camouflaged parrots or mp3 players) won't be on television all day saying the same thing over and over and over and so on and so forth.
one piece of autonomic rhetoric that always irks me is 'just like you.' you know, 'witf is supported by contributions from listeners just like you.' 'tax masters has helped many good people just like you.' just like me in every respect? say, whose bodies occupy precisely the same portion of space as mine? i wish they'd let me maintain my illusion that there is no person other than myself who is precisely like me, much less that there are oodles or scads of such people.
the phrase of the moment seems to be "do due diligence." geez, really? like white house people didn't do due diligence before hopping on shirley sherrod. surely not: if the phrase has any application, it would be in official licensing or inspection procedures. not they just routinely use it to mean, like "pay attention."
because every aspect of our lives has been in crisis for decades, we now have to move to other ways to express the non-stop ubiquitous disaster. thus the coinage extreme crisis. this would appear to be redundant, but is not. the healthcare crisis is acute and must be addressed immediately. however, we have been muddling along with more or less the same system since 1813. there has never been a moment in my 52 years in which education has not been in crisis. all of these gigantic mini-crises of course take place within the greatest crisis our species has ever faced: global warming, which is our biggest national security crisis.
so it's well past time we started tacking intensifiers on 'crisis,' which now refers to the normal or run-of-the-mill state of affairs in any given sphere. 'crisis,' in other words, has become synonymous with 'reality,' and just as something could be really real, a crisis could be critical. 'crisis' has lost its ability to mobilize, which was all it was ever actually used for anyway. well, i think now you're gonna need actual clubs and body armor to motivate anyone to do anything. during the next presidential campaign, for example, i think we should refer to american education as a "world-annihilating conflagration" or an "apocalypse."
however, i am already kind of bored by world-annihilating conflagrations and apocalypses, which are now available wholesale at six cents per thousand. the concept of the crisis is in crisis, in other words. so, if elected, i will try to remediate the extreme crisis crisis through understatement or perhaps a couple of centuries of absolute silence.
usage guide: "is, is that," as in "the truth is, is that..." you hear this all the time these days. it's an obama mannerism: which is odd given his pretty immaculate syntax. i see it occasionally in student papers. obviously, it is redundant: "the truth is that... ." Or, just get on with it.
The idea that an anarchist would be opposed to rules, or self-discipline (for example) is a misapprehension. There's no reason for an anarchist (e.g. me) not to be a stickler for grammar or usage. I have a vice-ridden streak, but also a severe ascetic impulse (my means of survival). An anarchist is opposed to coercion, but there's nothing coercive about correct usage, and nothing coercive about self-control. Some anarchists (Emma Goldman, for example, or Abbie Hoffman) have celebrated libertinism to some extent. But many have had a quite rigid sense of values and iron self-control (Voltairine de Cleyre or Thoreau spring to mind). In some ways, anarchists need discipline and self-control more than any statist, who can replace control of themselves with control of themselves by others.
"As such" is an extremely misused little phrase. (I'll try to come up with some examples as we go on; student papers are, so to speak, full of it, but you'll see it also in the writing of professors.) It's often used as an all-purpose conjunction or transitional element, and as such is often merely nonsensical. It is one of a thousand strategies for simulating learnedness that displays one's deficiency therein. If used at all, it should be reserved for very specific circumstances. If, for example, you've placed some object or person into a surprising category, you could go on to draw conclusions from that in the very next sentence: "Sarah Palin is an incomparable expert on micro-economics. As such, she and her opinions ought to be regarded with the utmost respect." Even there, you'd be much better off with "So she and her opinions &c". It could also be used as a substitute for "qua" constructions, as in "money qua money" (vs money qua toilet paper) = money as such. Re-cast.
Take the word 'proactive' and stick it. The fact that words seem to be abstract objects that exist at no particular time and place, however, might make it impossible to stick 'proactive,' or, if it's possible, relatively painless.
heidi collins on cnn (and everybody continually: "the amount of retirees.")
Mass nouns and count nouns should be distinguished. A pile of sand consists of a certain amount of sand; a pile of puppies is a certain number of puppies. You cannot, for example, have an “amount” of people as you can have a cup of sugar, unless you actually grind them up first; you have a number of people, or several people. You can't make a large amount of mistakes, such as a pound and a half of mistakes. Here's an actual example from the Washington Post: "The only time Giuliani has cracked the national news in any real way over the past month was late last week when it was announced that much of his senior staff members are going without pay in order to save money for a final push in Florida." Dude. Not 'much.' 'Many.' Phil Sims during the AFC championship game: "They make less errors." No: they make fewer errors.
lisa writes, with regard to no caps: "It's much less readable. I often skip your entries entirely because the all-lower-case just makes them too hard to plow through (especially combined with the lack of paragraph breaks). Dude, to use one of your locutions, this is one where you don't have a leg to stand on." if this sentiment is widely shared, i could use the shift key! watchyall think?
if i'm such a stickler for proper usage or whatever, why no capital letters? it started with email. because i hunt and peck and suffer from a certain manual retardation, hitting the shift key extends my capacities in an inordinate way. (my dad, who always typed with a pall mall dangling a half inch of ash alternating between mouth and fingers, said "i use the columbus method: i discover a key and land on it.") but i would semi-seriously argue for eliminating initial caps altogether. they're redundant, since we have terminal punctuation. it might take some getting used to, but i don't think text is any less readable without them.
i would never use "impact" as a verb, but there is no stopping the progressive mindless onslaught of history. however, i'd suggest that if you insist on it, you should reserve it for pretty dramatic effects, and not use it as a mere synonym for "affect." "jeb bush is considering how a run for the senate would impact his family": like a meteor or a mortar shell, no doubt.
two classics: the early editions of *fowler's english usage* and the great ambrose bierce's *write it right.* now both of these were written in the early twentieth century, and usage is in flux. many of the things fowler and bierce say are dated. but they are cranky, opinionated, and they are both just beautiful prose stylists. all the later usage guides i know are processed, written more or less by committees: bland, even if useful. questions of usage ought to arouse the passions, obviously. sex, violence and english usage are the primordial problematic themes of human life.
reserve "very frankly" for introducing a matter that you might be expected to conceal, something that might be offensive, or an opinion with which you expect everyone, more or less, to disagree. (if you have no such opinions, never use the word "frankly"; introduce statements of opinion with "very trivially.") actually, stick with "frankly" unless what you're saying is extremely transgressive. very frankly, pol pot is my personal hero. "frankly, my dear, i don't give a damn" is right. if you start out with "very frankly" and after that it's a cliche, you will be spit-roasted by satan at the behest of an angry god. are you listening, ed gordon?
guide to english usage: obviously, "distinctly different" is repetitively redundant. "a distinct difference" could only sensibly refer to two pairs of things. the difference between the difference between goodness and badness and the difference between beauty and ugliness is a distinct difference; that is, they are not the same difference. 7 minus 5 and 7 minus 3 are distinct differences.
"same diff," on the other hand, is a legitimate construction. in general, contradictions provide vivid, true vernacular, whereas redundancies and tautologies must be nitroglycerined into oblivion. there is suppleness, simplicity, and surprise in paradox - true lies, for example, are bittersweet - but only flab and pointless pretension in redundancies.
guide to english usage: 'fulsome' means cloying, disgusting. a fulsome scent is sickeningly sweet. fulsome praise is sheer flattery. it's used all the time now to mean 'full,' which often produces inadvertently hilarious sentences (for which, since there is slightly too little hilarity in the world, we should be grateful). of course, if enough people use it to mean 'full' for long enough, it *does* mean 'full.' but ask yourself why, besides the desire to simulate sophistication, you would gratuitously add a syllable to the perfectly good, straightforward 'full.' when you've got 'fuller' on hand, why, except to prove yourself a poseur, would you resort to 'more fulsome'? [david gergen on cnn: "i expect that the obama administration will pursue a more fulsome approach to diplomacy." har har. i expect that too.] before you know it, filling something up will be fulminating.
guide to english usage: to refute a claim, charge, or argument is to *show* it to be false or unsound. so to refute an accusation would be, for example, to establish an iron-clad alibi. merely to reject, deny, or repudiate the accusation is not to refute it. [plaxico's lawyer has not refuted the charges against him; he's just denied that they are true.] disagreeing with someone's argument is not refuting it unless you kill it, unless when you're done only an irrational person could still accept it. [against the state refutes - utterly destroys, expunges, annihilates - all the arguments to the effect that state power is morally defensible.] if a claim has been refuted, it's false.