Archive for the ‘Semantics’ Category

50/50 Really?

I asked a guy for an answer I needed.

“Are you going to be there?”

“I don’t know, I’m 50/50. But probably.”

Well, isn’t “probably” more than 50-50?

Or maybe at best 51-49?

The other side would be “probably not,” which is trouble because it sounds so less optimistic to the point that  you shouldn’t even offer a percentage.

He ended up coming, as I expected — no thanks to percentages.


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I don’t like the term “deputies.”

I like “police.”

I don’t like “investigators.”

I like “detectives.”

So the detectives determined that Justin was smoking his bong in the wilderness after police said they heard a group around a campfire playing Wu-Tang covers with a sitar.

The investigators and the deputies just stood around sounding stupid.

Which is generally what pigs do.

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I keep thinking about taking my truck to the Exclusive Detailing and Auto Care place that I drive by every day on my way to work.

But I don’t want to feel excluded.

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This is one I used to struggle with regularly in my day-to-day work, until I got used to it.

Someone pled guilty or pleaded guilty?

The rule for us in journalism is pleaded. The lawyers like pled.

I imagine this goes back to the good ole English court terminology somewhere in history.

In any case … I like pled.  It sounds more natural.

You don’t say you “saided” something.

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It’s coming to that time of year when there’s a knock at the door and you know who it is before you even open it.

To insult these people (never to their faces) some might call them names.  And they don’t put much thought into their insults.

Bible Bashers.

Where this one came from I’ve no idea.  But I’ve never yet seen a religious person bashing their bible; it wouldn’t achieve anything.

God Botherers.

Well, they might be bothering some people.  But I doubt they are bothering God (if there is a God to bother) and even if they intended to, wouldn’t they be struck down by lightning?  And isn’t God the last entity they’d want to bother?

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“I’ve just had a right good shit,” a friend who is known for giving unnecessary information said.

So, a good shit was not enough, it was a right good shit. Does that mean a good shit which is correct?  Can a good shit be incorrect for that matter.

“I’m right pleased with my new job.” – Can we be left pleased, or wrong pleased?

“He’s a right bastard, he is” – I’m sorry, but bastards are anything but right; they are most definitely always wrong.  And when we’re discussing bastards here, we’re not talking about illegitimate folks (who are merely unfortunate…unless they happen to be a badass as well), just unpleasant ones, as the new definition dictates.

Anyway, I’m right done with this usage of right.

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The Top Really Isn’t

The word top doesn’t mean to some people what it does to others. Is it a question of perspective?

“I’m on top of the world.” I suppose we all are in some sense, what with the world being a sphere, spinning through space. But if we take it to mean at the North Pole, as some people do, I’m not so sure that would be a great place to be at all. And the same could be said of Everest’s summit, unless you’re a climbing enthusiast.

“Bill is the top man for the job.” I doubt that he is. He could well be the top man for the job within that company, but he’s definitely not the top man. And besides, people at the top are apt to be…toppled.

So, maybe the top is really in the middle.

Topspin. In sports terminology, a ball is said to have topspin when it rotates forward in the direction that it is traveling, causing it to descend.

The question is, where is the top and when does the top cease being the top on a ball? Once it begins rotating, doesn’t the top cease to be the top? Or is the top a fixed place figured at the point of release, like the branding on a baseball where you put your index fingers to throw a curve?

In any case, the opposite of topspin — backspin, wherein a ball rotates the opposite direction it’s traveling — seems to be a more-appropriate directional explanation to describe the action.

Forward spin? Downspin?


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