“Some dance to remember”

One day when I was at high school, some representatives of the school newspaper asked random students what our favourite song was. When the next issue of the paper came out, there was The Eagles’ Hotel California, with … one vote. 

I don’t know why some songs remain in the individual or collective mind and others don’t. Some super-famous songs basically disappear almost without a trace, while others which were mildly popular at the time become classics. Hotel California was no 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for one week in May 1977. I can’t find any record of its chart performance in Australia. It certainly wasn’t no 1 or one of the top 25 singles that year.

It’s sometimes hard to say how much of my memory of a particular song is from the actual time, and how much is from encountering them on compilation cassettes, CDs or Youtube videos. Some songs were and are extensively featured on compilations and some aren’t. It was easy to spot, by their absence, the singers and groups (or their production companies) which didn’t licence their songs. 

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I slept (or sleeped) and dreamt (or dreamed)

Some time ago I posted about the alternation between leaned and leant, dream and dreamt etc. I said that I had more-or-less decided to use leaned and dreamed, mostly because they are clearer for second-language listeners to understand, but then I quite naturally used leant when talking to one second-language listener. 

My work team has been working from home (mostly full-time but at least part-time) for almost two years. Alongside work-related emails, we send social/personal ones. One of my colleagues is studying psychology and is particularly interested in dreams. I can’t remember enough of most of my dreams, but occasionally one will persist after I wake up. A few days ago I sent an email with a brief description of my dream, starting “I dreamed …”. Another colleague picked me up this, so I explained the alternation and my decision, with a link to my blog post. She commented that the song from Les Misérables really couldn’t be I dreamt a dream. (With a side thought about the alternation between I dreamed/dreamt a dream and I dreamed/dreamt, and also I had a dream.) 

Along the way, because of its connection with dream, I also thought about sleep, which has the strong irregular form slept. But sleep now means something like to place a computer into a power saving mode. We can sleep a computer, and sleeping a computer is also common, but do we say I slept my computer or I sleeped a computer? At the moment, the usage isn’t common enough to be sure. There are a handful of results for I slept my computer and one for I sleeped my computer. Most people avoid the problem by putting their computer into sleep mode. Compare Stephen Pinker’s example of The batter flied out to centre (<my Australian-set auto-correct changed center to centre), not The batter flew out to centre. Because of my almost zero experience of baseball, I don’t have to worry about that, though.

Despite what I wrote in the title to this post, I definitely slept, but I may have dreamt or dreamed.

Verb it!

I’ve been struggling for ideas for posts, so I turned to the online discussions I had with my classmates during my masters study in 2010-12, which we were able to save as text files.

One involved the use of technology-related nouns and verbs. The discussion thread was Google it! As the name of a website, Google is a noun (and upper case), but people soon began using it as a verb and writing it in lower case. Many people decry the verbing of nouns and/or using registered company or product names as generics (see generic trademark) but both are common procedures in English. I can remember people faxing (though fax was never a proper noun, and was an abbreviation of facsimile (another common procedure in English – I don’t think anyone ever facsimilied (btw when was the last time you sent a fax?))), and references to people telexing (which was originally an upper-case proper noun). Before that, people telephoned, then ’phoned then phoned. All of these are transitive verbs: Google it, fax the document to me, fax it to me, fax me the document, ?/*fax me it, phone me, ?telephone me. (See also telegram, telegraph (including its metaphoric use) and wire.) (I can also remember an advertisement (?for a graphic designer) informing us that we could ‘fax or modem’ our requirements to them.)

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Hello camera

At some time during my first stay in Korea, I watched the movie 순정만화 (sun-jeong man-hwa, pure/romantic comic) rendered in English as Hello schoolgirl (Wikipedia, trailer with English subtitles, full movie with English subtitles). 

I recently posted about the 2003 movie 아이엔지 (a-i-en-ji, …ing, as in the English present participle), in which the high school girl’s mother gives her a mobile phone and she exclaims that she can take pictures, too. In this 2008 movie, the high school girl has a phone already, one of the first things we see her do is take a selfie, and she and the young man are texting and sending photos very soon after. Even without knowing it was from 2008, the slide phones would date it to a year or two. 

In fact, her aim is to own a film camera (필름 카메라), which can’t have been very common by then (I took a small and medium film camera with me in 2006, lost the small one very soon after, bought a digital one and never used the medium one again). While researching for this post, though, I found that film cameras are enjoying something of a resurgence in popularity, if only toy/disposable cameras available in vending machines. 

I’m posting this soon after lunar new year. Part of the plot is driven by the fact that the young man is 12 years older than the high school girl. He comments that they share the same sign, but nothing is said about whether that’s a good or bad thing.

What is a hyphenated Australian meant to do?

Tonight is census night in Australia. One question asks about our ancestry. There is a default list of the most common answers from the last census and a text box to type in any other answer. In the list are English, Irish, Scottish and Australian. Yes, my ancestry is Australian for 4-6 generations, but I think selecting that tells an incomplete story. Fine, I’ll select English, Irish and Scottish and type in ‘Cornish’. Except … I’m only allowed to choose two. So, either I tell an incomplete story by selecting ‘Australian’, or I tell an incomplete story by selecting and/or writing any two of those four. But which two? Numerically, my ancestry is more English and Scottish, but I identify less as English and more as any or all of those other four, to the extent that it matters 140 years after my last ancestors arrived in Australia (from England, as it happens). Maybe I should have tried typing in Anglo-Saxon-Celtic-Australian or Normo-Dano-Anglo-Saxo-Juto-Romano-Celto-Australian and seen if it would have accepted it.

Absorption

I was using Google Maps to look at a medium-sized city in Nigeria (because work) and spotted Absorption Cathedral. I tested it out on six browsers on two computers at work and home. Microsoft Edge, Google Crome for Windows at work and Google Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer for Mac at home call it Absorption Cathedral. Internet Explorer for Windows at work calls it Assumpta Maria Cathedral (as does Bing Maps for Mac at home). The diocese’s own website call it Assumpta Cathedral (as do Wikipedia’s pages for the diocese and the cathedral) and there are results online for Maria Assumpta Cathedral

I can understand that Google Maps displays differently on different browsers, but would have assumed (<haha) that it uses the same data for each. The Roman Catholic Church is a major international organisation, so the information must be readily available. A number of travel websites show accommodation near Absorption Cathedral

Absorption and assumption have similar meanings (ab- sorbēre to suck in, swallow and ad- + sūmere to take up). Assumption has been given a theological meaning, but absorption hasn’t. 

PS The Borg on Star Trek was/were at the back of my mind, but the word used there is assimilation.

Google’s autocomplete

I don’t know how Google’s autocomplete works, but it’s not really helping calm nerves at this time. Are these based on real searches by real people?

Just for comparison:

I also don’t know if they tailor those results to my current location.

Actually, Australia is wider than the moon, but I’m not sure who would ask about which two hemispheres (of Earth) Australia is located in, unless it’s the southern and eastern hemispheres.

In the course of legal editing

Microsoft Word’s clarity and conciseness checker keeps giving and I keep not being able to ignore it. In two documents recently, it suggested changing in the course of to during and made out of to made from.

The first problem is that both phrases were part of larger units with different grammatical structures. In the course of was part of a sentence like “The applicant enrolled in the course of study”, which is clearly [enrolled [in [the course of study]]] (compare enrolled in Linguistics 101), and which clearly can’t be changed to “The applicant enrolled during study”. Made out of was part of a sentence like “The application was made out of time”, which is clearly [made [out of time]] (compare made late), and which clearly can’t be changed to “The application was made from time”. 

The second problem is that in the course of occurs in slightly different structures than during. I can say in the course of my linguistics study or during my linguistics study. I can say in the course of studying linguistics, but not during studying linguistics (but I can say while studying linguistics). In other words, in the course of can be followed by NP or V-ing, while during can be followed by NP but not V-ing. Most of the time, gerunds behave like nouns, but not always.

The third problem is that there is nothing wrong with in the course of or made out of. In the course of my linguistics study might mean that I undertook a course in linguistics, while during my Korean study might mean that I have studied (mostly ineffectively) by myself. Made from, made of, made out of and made with have subtle differences. This page attempts to explain it, but I’m not totally convinced, especially with, relevantly, made out of and made from. Its example of The earliest canoes were made from tree trunks could easily be made out of; likewise made out of wine bottles could be made from wine bottles. To me, if there is a difference, it is that made from is slightly more formal and applicable over time and space (The earliest canoes were made from tree trunks), while made out of is slightly less formal and more likely to be ad hoc (We made a canoe out of a tree trunk).

My editorial job does not involve changing what the legal officer has written, so I didn’t have to decide.

Once a pun a time …

One of the problems with listening to music for most of the day as I work from home is that most free music platforms support themselves with advertising revenue, so the music is regularly interrupted by ads which have nothing to do with the music, and often nothing to do with me. That’s the price I pay for not paying the price.

One assiduous advertiser on one major video hosting site enables shoppers to get significant discounts on purchases from many major retailers. (I’m not sure how this works – I can’t figure out how the company and the retailers both make money from the retailers selling at a discount). These purchases are illustrated by “everyday Aussies” holding their purchases, where [Name’s product] makes a pun on the name of someone famous. Some of these puns are better or worse, depending on your taste in puns. I think Camilla’s pasta bowls is better and Kim’s car dash cam is worse. 

Two are particularly noteworthy, because the possessive ’s’ becomes part of surname of the famous person: Sylvester’s cologne and Jack’s barrow. But while ‘scologne’ is still distinguishable from ‘Stallone’ because of the difference between /k/ and /t/, ‘sbarrow’ is almost indistinguishable from ‘Sparrow’ because the differences between /p/ and /b/ are almost neutralised following /s/. By itself, /p/ is unvoiced and aspirated; following /s/ it is non-aspirated. By itself, /b/ is voiced and unaspirated; following /b/ it is devoiced. 

(No names, no free adversing. Search and you will find.)