## FoundAround 2008-22

May 31, 2008

Some miscellanea encountered this week:

• Reductio ad grammarium. D. C. Simpson’s Ozy and Millie has been on my reading list for several years now. In Wednesday’s installment, Grammar Nazi, Avery uses the overworn substitution of an $X$ Nazi for someone who takes a dictatorial attitude towards $X$. Millie recasts this by taking the word Nazi in a literal, historical sense and transferring it to a world of grammar: Grammar Nazis can invade places like Grammar Czechoslovakia and Grammar Poland. So, when we dispose of prescriptivist attitudes and a priori theoretical commitments in linguistics, have we moved to Grammar Switzerland?
• Attitude. Over at Language Log, the post Evervate, disconnect, revolt by (the apparently pseudonymous) Melvyn Quince bemoans the injection of “business-school jargon” in inappropriate places. Quince’s annoyance is directed at the three-word admonition “• innovate • connect • achieve” inflicted on him as a slogan for a linguistics conference he attended. As things go, however, it’s relatively innocuous. I have a mug in my kitchen that says, simply:
Attitude
is everything

(Yes, with the maroon on black and a cursive typeface to visually convey “attitude”.) Also innocuous. Except, of course, when given as a “bonus” to a demoralized team of software developers on a 100-hour-per-week death-march project. The resounding response—perhaps not surprisingly?—was best expressed by one of the developers as “Yeah, attitude is everything… and mine sucks!

• Just “a little differently”. Internet Explorer has been the source of frustration for many web developers. It is absolutely notorious for its broken behavior when rendering web pages. (An IRS auditor would have a field day with a tax return that was as compliant with tax laws as IE is with web standards.) The language that’s usually used when talking candidly about how to get IE to behave itself… well, I wouldn’t repeat it around my 4-year-old. And then, in the wordpress.com forums, boblets presented me with one of the single best examples of understatement I have ever seen. It seems that “IE tend[s] to …erm…. translate code a little diffrently than the others.” Hee…

Copyright © 2008 Michael L. McCliment.

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