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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Interjection and Inhalation

  3-2-1: and another round of rambling commences. Before "we" get into  oh so important matters of grammatical terminology, I must share with you a brilliant insight that came to me in the lonely twilight hours: if women choose not to go out on dates with me, it is simply because they are either 1. budding lesbians or 2. about to embark on a career of cat hoarding. Now that I know it truly isn't me, I feel tremendous relief.

      An interesting question bubbled my grey matter the other day: what's the difference between an interjection and an exclamation? Both interjections and exclamations act as outbursts and can signify the sudden release of emotion. The differences seem to be that interjections should be single words ( some people consider them one of the parts of speech) and exclamations can be sentences or phrases. Additionally, interjections can act like distractions or diversions away from the topic at hand. So then, examples of interjections may be: "damn,"  "ouch," "whoa" or even "hey" in some circumstances. A teacher I've worked with describes interjections as the "words you say when you stub your toe." If I then understand it correctly, exclamations could be, "What the hell?"; "Oh my God!" ; or even "Give me a break!" If I need to be corrected on these intricacies or my semi-colon use, then kindly embarrass me in the comments section. If you want a more authoritative presentation on this issue, then check out this link:

  I don't intend to make this blog about whatever trashy novel or relevant non-fiction I may or may not be reading at any given time, but in my reading I came across something amusing and word/ phrase related.  Right now, I'm reading a book entitled "Taking Charge of My Life: Personal Essays by Today's College Students." The book is simply a collection of essays written by college students (primarily middle aged) who are in developmental reading or writing classes. If you find stories of broken or languishing people putting themselves back together again by pursuing an education inspirational, then you might really enjoy this book because that's truthfully all it is. One writer, recalling her past substance abuse problems, talked about coping with her physical pain through marijuana use. She wrote something to the effect that she began to smoke "joints" or "marijuana-cigarettes." Yes, she felt the need to define the term "joint" for her academic readers, who she must have assumed all wear cardigans, spend Saturday night watching Laurence Welk in the rumpus room, and live next to the Beavers. Her usage made me think of high-school debates and freshman essays about legalizing weed where students similarly felt the need to explain to their Martian teachers what the word "joint" meant.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

You People Are Late

Most of what I like to read is not high art, literature, or "literary fiction." Right now, I'm reading a Michael Connelly novel entitled "Trunk Music." I enjoy his novels about a hard-bitten homicide detective named Harry Bosch.  Bosh usually ends up sleeping with a hot chick, killing or injuring thugs, and piecing together a mystery by the end of the novel. He lives in a very noir world. Why am I telling you this? In "Trunk Music," A minor character, a thug bouncer at a strip club, is known as "Gussy" because he likes to dress up or get all "gussied up." Unrelatedly, I recently met a short, feisty old Jewish woman who liked to gossip conspiratorially and her name was... "Gussy." I have trouble believing in coincidences, although the rationalist in me says I should trust that coincidences are just part of life. Maybe.

 Another observation: 

   There seems to be a perception, in these United States and possibly elsewhere, that certain ethnic groups are habitually late to meetings or obligations.  This generalization is often derogatory. Just think of the term CPT, which stands for Colored People's Time. The implication of CPT is that black people are routinely late for work, appointments, whatever. I've also heard of "island time." I'm not sure if "island time" carries the same baggage, but I can imagine people perceiving a relaxed island culture as overly relaxed when it comes to matters of punctuality.  I've even heard of Mormon Time, the explanation for why large families of Mormons are late to church. All of these examples aside, I recently heard someone refer to her tardy sister as being on "Jewish Time." Jewish Time, really?

Friday, January 6, 2012

For example, "living life to the fullest" is cliche

        Hey kids,

       I'm sorry to have been on hiatus for the last few weeks, but I can only promise you that it will happen again. As you know, my life is a boiling cauldron of resentments and my soul is seething with bitterness. I remember things. I remember an editor and a colleague both trying to correct me on my usage of "for instance" instead of "for example," or vice versa. Guess what, you bean-counting nitpicks? Most writing specialists agree that the two can be used absolutely interchangeably! It really doesn't matter, aside from some poetic or artistic considerations. Okay, now that I've gotten that hair off my chest, I'll go on to my other gripe.

   There are a lot of empty phrases or cliches people use when they want to make a point or dress up their language or otherwise be pretentious in some small way. My friends and Twitter lovers offered a few examples of  empty or annoying words and phrases:

1 Literally: As in "he literally beat the living hell out of him" or "I literally ate a ton of pizza."  When of course, it's obvious that no one has ever beaten the fire and sulfur out of another individual nor eaten a garbage truck full of pizza -at least not in one sitting.

2 Bear with me:  A Twitter lover expressed that idea that if  someone isn't  seriously imposing on you, then this phrase doesn't need to be used. My insight is that ESL speakers must find this phrase confusing, perhaps conjuring up images of large woodland beasts in close proximity to the speaker.

3 At the end of the day: Yeah, this phrase can be trite and inaccurate- "At the end of the day, the United States just isn't the superpower it used to be."

4 Living life to the fullest: I can't stand this one. The idea is fine, but the actual use of the phrase is often ridiculous. Whether it's compulsive women who sleep with anyone who cross their path and neglect their Neverneverland family of adolescents in favor of partying or falling down alcoholics who accuse everyone of judging them for the lifestyle they're not ashamed of, I'm generally not impressed with people who use this this phrase. I remember correcting a lazy illiterate's paper where she said she wanted to remembered as "living life to the fullest" because she hung out with friends and partied a lot; meanwhile, she really was illiterate, probably never read a book in her life, and when asked what she wanted to do for a living would respond that she wanted to be a "physical therapy." 

           I think that's enough bile and bitterness for today. Thanks for reading!