John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and random topics. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. The original site,, at, and now at

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Other stuff you ought to read

Item: The estimable Jesse Sheidlower, whose The F Word deserves your close attention, has an essay at about the difficulties of including and properly defining sexual terms in the dictionary.

If you like vulgar words — and who among us is afraid to admit it? — he offers plenty. (Though nothing quite as graphic as the bovine flatulence that Language Log is celebrating.)

Item: It is probably even more difficult to determine what should go into a book of quotations. The Oxford University Press blog (Caution, reader: this is a promotional article) recently commented on the inclusion in the latest edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations of a remark by Paris Hilton: “Dress cute wherever you go. Life is too short to blend in.”

I have not solicited her views on the bow tie.

Item: Jag Bhalla, an amateur idiomologist and author of I’m Not Hanging Noodles on Your Ears, a collection of idioms from ten languages, writes at the National Post of Canada about his addiction to language and his search for exotic idioms.

The title of his book is a translation of a Russian expression equivalent to the English idiom I’m not pulling your leg. Presumably the English would sound comically exotic to a Russian.

Item: Adrienne Carlson has sent me a link to “75 Awesome Games, Tools, and Links for Word Lovers” at the Accredited Online Degrees site. I can’t vouch for the awesomeness of all 75 entries, but several of them look as if they might assist you in wasting time at work.

Item: There is still time to for you to put a handful of votes in the ballot box for this blog at The Sun’s Mobbies competition. (See link at upper right corner.)