Monthly Archives: October 2011

What is a hot dog?


Or is it hotdog?


A hot dog — or hotdog — is a sandwich made with a wiener (a sausage)…skinless or otherwise. The wiener is not a hot dog/hotdog; by itself it is just a wiener.


The hot dog/hotdog doesn't happen until it becomes a sandwich. Condiments (ketchup, mustard, relish, onions) are optional. But the bun is essential.


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Posted by on October 31, 2011 in Uncategorized


Word Fusion


Fun for Word Junkies to Consider


When I was a fledgling advertising dude — account manager and copywriter — I was faced with some editorial STYLE questions. Anybody who writes for publication is always faced with style questions. The first one to present itself was when I was responsible for 3M Company audio and video products.


We had always called our recording tapes "audio tapes" and "audio cassettes". But when we started talking about the video version of recording tapes, we had to decide whether to call them "video tapes" or "videotapes"…"video cassettes" or "videocassettes".


It didn't strike me at the time that we would be doing something for verbal posterity…combining an adjective and a noun into one cohesive, meaningful, understandable noun. Some entrepreneurs have even taken advantage and developed the fusion words into brand names for their companies and products.


We have so many examples today. Are they better as separate words, or combined into a single word…adjectives & nouns or just complex, descriptive nouns?


dining room or diningroom

health care or healthcare

poppy seeds or poppyseeds

sail boat or sailboat

word processor or wordprocessor

hot dog or hotdog

Aaron Rodgers or AaronRodgers

air force or airforce

window panes or windowpanes

sauce pan or saucepan

kitchen sink or kitchensink

bath room or bathroom

basket ball or basketball

desk top or desktop

Eli Manning or EliManning

book store or bookstore

thunder clouds or thunderclouds

General Electric or GeneralElectric

prime time or primetime

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Posted by on October 31, 2011 in Uncategorized


Sloppiness is Causing Language Cancer


Spreading via TV talking heads!


Our English language is being eroded by the talking heads on television. They're political commentators, sports stars, interview subjects (including Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education), and even a few news anchors.


It's shameful when prominent people can't seem to speak proper English, especially when they're on the stage of our mass media.

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Posted by on October 30, 2011 in Uncategorized


Gotham Speak


Exclusive to New York and New Jersey?


One of the strangest pronunciations of common English words seems to proliferate in New York.  And perhaps New Jersey.  Massachusetts might even qualify. It's about ending words with an "r" or "ar" or "er" sound when there is no "r" in the word itself. Some of the Brits even talk this way…shameful.  Examples:








What's this all about…how did it get started, and why does it persist?


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Posted by on October 29, 2011 in Uncategorized


Who is a “martyr”?


Certainly not someone who tries to be killed!


It seems that "martyrdom" has become fashionable in some parts of the world; but that title is mostly delusional.


The definition is probably more serious — and consequential — than simple English grammar. It's a matter of life & death, often a result of misguided thinking.


The Oxford dictionary says that a martyr is someone who is killed because of religious or other beliefs. But I take issue with this…when the person killed TRIED to be killed. Delusion doesn't qualify.


My take…a true martyr is someone killed as a CONSEQUENCE of promoting a belief, not someone who blows himself/herself up and kills others in the effort.


Going to heaven or nirvana is another matter. Perhaps the delusional aspect of the act.



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Posted by on October 28, 2011 in Uncategorized


Breakfast Pancakes


Your first pronunciation challenge of the day.


There they are, just as you like them…light and fluffy or thin like crepes (Scandinavian style).


You then dot those breakfast beauties with some butter, maybe a raspberry or two…and immediately pour over a generous amount of warm syrup.


Here's the challenge:  That syrup is often pronounced two ways…"seerup" or "surrup".  Why would you want to pronounce it "surrup" when the word contains the letter "y"?  One of Martha Stewart's cooking editors doesn't seem to notice the difference; she pronounces "syrup" both ways depending upon the flavor.  Ridiculous.


Syrup is "seerup".  Enjoy it on your pancakes, especially maple syrup with country sausage and/or bacon.

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Posted by on October 27, 2011 in Uncategorized


Questions & Answers


The true meaning behind the answer.


Have you noticed how often people say to someone who asked a question, "That's a good question"? Well…fairly often not true.


Of course, many questions are good questions, but the response usually means that the responder doesn't know…doesn't have a good answer — or any answer at all…totally stumped. 


"Good question" often has nothing to do with the quality of the question. It seems to be more about the ability to craft an answer.

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Posted by on October 27, 2011 in Uncategorized


routine, regime, and regimen


Frequently confused!


It's a puzzlement to me why "regime" and "regimen" are confused.


"Regime" is what just happened in Libya…a revolution overthrowing the Qaddafi regime…an authoritarian government. Regime change.


"Regimen" is a disciplined procedure — a routine — like a training schedule to prepare for an athletic event; the careful preparations made for medical surgery; or the procedure that precedes a duel.


There was certainly some semblance of a regimen making it possible to overthrow the Qaddafi regime.


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Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Uncategorized


Worst Website Names


What were they thinking?!


My #1 Russian friend alerted me to these terrible website names:  (Who Represents)  (Experts Exchange)  (Pen Island)  (Therapist Finder)  (Mole Station Nursery)  (Speed of Art)  (Cummings Methodist Church)


OMG…what were they thinking?!

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Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Uncategorized




A common comment, but rarely true.


Every day we hear someone say, "that's interesting" — or we say it ourselves. But it's rarely true.


Something that's truly interesting is probably ponderable or worthy of some thought; so the quick comment about something is just a kiss-off…a reflection of not knowing what else to say.


Simple curiosity about something probably doesn't qualify it as interesting. But "that's interesting" tends to get us out of an awkward conversation.


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Posted by on October 24, 2011 in Uncategorized