Saturday, 14 August 2010

that which annoys me

Carol Ann Wilson is 30% right: where there's a comma, only "which" is possible. However, where there's no comma, both "that" and "which" are correct: "The report which I sent last week will be of some help." is a fine sentence. Ignore any guide which tells you otherwise.

mightened of

According to Google, there are 33 examples of "mightened of" in evidence on the Web. (I wonder how many there'll be this time next year?) Although it's pretty stupid-looking, it's forgiveable. After all, how many times have you seen the correct "mightn't've" written down? (Well, only 53 times on the Web, according to Google...) And it looks pretty stupid, too..

Blogpost at Language Log

(Update: It's now 31/8/11 and the current hit total is 114!)

Monday, 9 August 2010

Little Birmingham

There's widespread coverage in the news of the murder in Pakistan of a couple from Birmingham, Gul and Begum Wazir. The BBC version states that the couple were killed in Salehana, "sometimes referred to as Little Birmingham because of its strong ties with the Pakistani community in the West Midlands." Well, that's interesting, I thought, and I proceeded to do a Google search. And guess what? A search on Salehana brings up no results except for 150 versions of this news story, plus a few people's surnames. Wherever this story originated, that journalist was given a spelling but didn't check it. Now, spellings of Pakistani placenames are variable, to be sure, but it's far from helpful to use a spelling that no-one can find on the internet.

So, how did I find the village? Luckily other news sites gave the name of the district* (Nowshera) and I was able to find this site which handily lists all the villages there. Scrolling down the list I found Saleh Khana. Bingo! The Wikipedia entry for the village is wonderful, and I've done a screencap in case they rewrite it now in a more mature manner...

Sunday, 8 August 2010

For Area 51, read Proposition 65

Over at alt.usage.english, Laura posted:
While browsing the online Levenger catalogue, I noticed a footnote to a page advertising a Moleskine notebook which reads: "Prop 65 Warning for California Residents— Click here for details." Clicking took me to a pop-up window which reads:

"WARNING! This product contains a chemical known to the state ofCalifornia to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm."

Further investiagtion reveals that all the Moleskine products offered are so annotated. I am puzzled by this, and as the owner of several Moleskine notebooks, slightly alarmed. What could the chemical be? And how dangerous could it be in a notebook? I suppose there may be a chance of small children or dogs chewing it but that seems somewhat remote.

John Dean referred Laura to the Wikipedia page for (the notorious) Proposition 65. The irony of the zealous implementation of this law being that, rather than reducing litigation, it's had the effect of creating its own little legal industry.