Monthly Archives: November 2015

Pullum doesn’t understand their own example

On the venerable Language Log earlier today, a post by Geoff Pullum [Annals of singular ‘they’: another case with known sex” 30.11.15] quotes Transparent writer/director Jill Soloway’s interesting use of singular they [recently named a WOTY for 2016]: People will recognise that just because somebody is masculine, it doesn’t mean they have a penis. Just […]

The Colour of Greyhounds

Do you know the old joke, “What colour was Napoleon’s white horse?” Well I have another one for you: “What colour was Napoleon’s greyhound?”. Not sure? You may consult the Official Greyhound Colour Chart: Here’s how OED sums up the situation: Apparently < a first element cognate with Old Icelandic grey bitch (further etymology uncertain: […]

Bad Boundary

Did a federal MP from Saskatchewan call a female NDP candidate a whore? [story at CNCNews.com 19.11.15]. Tom Lukiwski is alleged to have said: We got to get Greg back elected.” He’s too important of an MLA to let go down to an NDP whore just because of a bad boundary. The explanation given by Lukiwski, […]

Maniacal Mental Etymology

In a recent number of the London Review of Books [37.20; 22 October 2015], a poem by Anne Carson gets thinking about etymology: Prepare for thinking (in the car as we go) by reading a book found in the garage, Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots, where I learn ‘to think’ comes from root men-, (zero […]