When ancient-history geeks go bad

A few minutes ago here at chez Raymond, my friend John Desmond says: “So, have you heard about the new Iraqi national anthem?”

I said “Uh, OK, I’m braced for this. What about it?”

He said “In the good old Sumer time.”

I pointed a finger at him and said “You’re Akkad!”

Yes. Yes, we probably do both deserve a swift kicking.

104 thoughts on “When ancient-history geeks go bad

  1. If this is parody, I’m not getting it. If it’s not, what drugs are you on?

  2. > If this is parody, I’m not getting it. If it’s not, what drugs are you on?

    It’s not parody, it’s puns :) Wonderful, glorious, puns.

  3. @Jorge:

    In the first pun, “Sumer” is conflated with “Summer”, with a reference to the title of an old movie.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumer

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_the_Good_Old_Summertime

    The second one took me a while. I knew that Akkad was a city in ancient Mesopotamia, but I was having gobble figuring out what he was punning it with. I believe the pun is Akkad/”a cad”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akkad_(city)

    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/cad

  4. The problem Eric, is that pounds about Mesopotamia are, historically speaking, quite overused and not very original. It turns out, the very first pun ever told was about Mesopotamia. It was the Ur-pun.

  5. >The problem Eric, is that pounds about Mesopotamia are, historically speaking, quite overused and not very original. It turns out, the very first pun ever told was about Mesopotamia. It was the Ur-pun.

    When I posted a link to G+ I gave it the tagline “New blog post: because to Ur is human.”

  6. >I believe the pun is Akkad/”a cad”.

    Jorge: I’ve never actually heard “Akkad” pronounced, but the most natural way for a native English speaker to sound the written form is with syllabic stress nearly but not equal and the first syllable very slightly less stressed. This blurs the short-a sound of the initial vowel ever so slightly towards a schwa. If you exaggerate that blurring, you get what sounds like “a cad” spoken quickly.

    Since you’re probably interested in such nuances, a clue to the equal stress is the doubled k, which hints that the word could be syllabized as Ak-kad. But double k is very rare in English (I actually can’t think of another dictionary word in which it occurs) and does not geminate naturally the way a liquid or nasal would.

  7. >Erech, any chance the puns extended to Assyria?

    That’s it, I’m taking it on the Elam. See me Hurrian away?

  8. Heh. Y’all seem to have missed my point.

    Eric, the remark I made was originally yours. I intended it as what TVTropes calls “Ironic Echo”. :-)

    I don’t fault you for having forgotten about your own statement; I just happen to have a particularly good memory, though not as good as Ireneo Funes’. ;-)

  9. >Bookkeeper is the only other double k that comes to mind.

    Yeah, and that’s a frozen compound. English phonotactics does not like that kk; it took high pressure to squeeze them together.

  10. Double k’s? Tekkie, a variant spelling of techie. Trekkie, of course.

  11. Well, there’s the verb “to grok” (coined by Heinlein, right?), whose gerund and present participle are “grokking”.

    Say, Eric mentioned syllabic stress. Lately, I’ve been wondering about the stress in “convergence”. Is it “CONvergence” or “conVERgence”?

  12. >Yeah, and that’s a frozen compound. English phonotactics does not like that kk; it took high pressure to squeeze them together.

    Fair point. I’m not much of a linguist, but I assume that Jackknife, since the second k is a silent kn grouping doesn’t count as a true “double K”

  13. Erech, any chance the puns extended to Assyria?

    I think we all know what happens when you Assumer.

  14. @esr:
    > English phonotactics does not like that kk; it took high pressure to squeeze them together.

    It’s more orthography than phonotactics. English does not have phonemic gemination within words, only across word boundaries in certain situations. Orthogrphic gemination indicates the length of a preceding vowel, but generally does not correspond to phonological gemination, and sometimes actually corresponds to a *shorter* consonant (e.g, “batter” and “badder” in General American).

    In most cases where “k” would be geminated orthography, “ck” is used instead.

  15. >Say, Eric mentioned syllabic stress. Lately, I’ve been wondering about the stress in “convergence”. Is it “CONvergence” or “conVERgence”?

    It’s conVERgence in every dialect I know about.

  16. >Orthogrphic gemination […] sometimes actually corresponds to a *shorter* consonant (e.g, “batter” and “badder” in General American

    Pretty much always, I think. Consider planer/planner, baling/balling, rater/ratter, tater/tatter, holer/holler, raper/rapper, diner/dinner, slimer/slimmer, dimer/dimmer (dimer = two monomers) riming/rimming, and quite relevantly Sumer/summer.

  17. English phonotactics does not like that kk; it took high pressure to squeeze them together.

    ISTR there being a handful of English words that lost a consonant over time, but I couldn’t think of any concrete examples.

    I did, however, turn up a passage that suggests that this at least occurred in Greek antiquity, although I might be misunderstanding the context:

    It is not indeed necessary to maintain that in all these cases (or indeed in any of them) the lost consonant was pronounced at the time when the Homeric poems were composed. We have only to suppose, in most of the cases, that the particular combination in question had established itself in the usage of the language before the two consonants were reduced by phonetic decay to one. Thus we may either suppose (e. g.) that ???? ???v in the time of Homer was still pronounced ???? ????v, or […].

    The problem with the above is that all the examples I read in that passage seem to involve the loss of sigma, and from the beginning of a word.

    By contrast, I’m remembering words where consonants were ejected from the middle. This evidently resulted in several lower-energy words, plus a great many high-energy consonants zipping about. Presumably until they were absorbed by Eastern Europe.

  18. >Presumably until they were absorbed by Eastern Europe.

    LOL. You put me in mind of this classic.

    “The deployment, dubbed Operation Vowel Storm by the State Department…”

  19. On double K’s, there are several “kc” or “ckc” compounds in my /usr/share/dict/words: blackcurrant, bookcase, crankcase, sackcloth.

    There are some “cc”s, but it’s not clear if those should be counted even when they do realize as a k sound (frankly I’m not 100% sure of what a double consonant is supposed to mean phonologically for the consonant itself – it seems to mostly mean the preceding vowel is short, often related to the absence of a final silent “e” on a related un-suffixed word)

    > ISTR there being a handful of English words that lost a consonant over time, but I couldn’t think of any concrete examples.

    The most significant process I can think of is the loss of the initial N (and some words have gained it instead) to the adjacent indefinite article, see Rebracketing.

  20. @Paul:
    > ISTR there being a handful of English words that lost a consonant over time, but I couldn’t think of any concrete examples.

    Around 1500 years ago, such words as soft, goose (cf gander), five, mouth, tooth, and thought (cf. think) lost their nasals. The German cognates to these words retain the nasals (sanft, Gans, fünf, Mund, etc).

    Around the time of Shakespeare, “gh” was lost in speech but preserved in spelling. (Cf. Night vs. German Nacht, eight vs. acht, I vs. ich, etc.)

    More recently, most British dialects have lost r in syllable codas, and American dialects have started to lose t and d between n and a syllabic r (“kinnergarden”, “innerstate”) in fast speech.

  21. @John Dougan: Actually, I thought the casual term for a technology expert was spelled “techie”, not “tekkie,” but that may be mere pedantry.

  22. > More recently, most British dialects have lost r in syllable codas,

    The “r” in Colonel is hiding in Cairns?

    > and American dialects
    > have started to lose t and d between n and a syllabic r (“kinnergarden”, “innerstate”) in
    > fast speech.

    Not “fast speech”. Sloppy speech.

  23. It’s conVERgence in every dialect I know about.

    Thanks.

    I’ve got two more questions about Shakespeare’s tongue:
    1. In Spanish, we have a way of classifying words according to syllabic stress. For example, if a word is stressed in its final syllable, we say it’s a palabra aguda (palabra = word). Now, when I ask Google Translate for the English equivalent of that term, I get “sharp word”; but I’m 90% sure that’s a mistranslation. Could it be that English has no system for classyfing words according to syllabic stress?
    2. The plural for “mouse” is “mice” and the plural for “louse” is “lice”; how come the plural for “house” isn’t “hice”? (I’m glad it isn’t, though. Yeesh!)

  24. The whole purpose of the British Empire, of course, was to steal extra vowels from other countries and add them unnecessarily to the King’s English. This of course hit the Balkans hard, as the British most successfully extorted them from the failing Ottoman Empire — the Arabic and Hebrew alphabets wound up entirely without vowels as a result, while the Balkans saw their supplies depleted. Operation Vowel Storm was a well–intended effort at trying to help the victims, but the only real solution will be to make the British successor states (Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealnd, and so forth) disgorge their booty and make reparations.

    “Colour”, “flavour”, “honour”, “humour”, “labour”, “neighbour”, “leukaemia”, “manoeuvre”, “oestrogen”, “paediatric”, and “analogue” – they’re just a short sample of the “catalogue” of booty the British Empire stole from the world.

  25. Pretty much any time you see an “ae” or an “oe” you’re actually seeing an Ash “æ” or an Ethel “œ” that fell out of use because printing was coming into vogue and having extra sorts (the physical metal stamps that the printer had to set in place by hand) was a special kind of hell. This is also the same reason the thorn and eth fell out of use and eventually were replaced by “th”. Modern digital typography makes it much simpler to use æ and œ, I just have to do a long press on my phone’s keyboard to get to them.

    The typographer in me bemoans their general loss, because at least in my particular dialect of English æ is most assuredly it’s own particular vowel and not a dipthong. Then again, the English vowel system is spectacularly broken in regard to how we represent it in spelling… we use single letters for our dipthongs and digraphs for our vowels. Oh and we teach our children we have five vowels when we really have closer to twenty. (Depending on how you define a vowel sound and if you include rhoticized vowels. Which you really should. “Er” is quite important in English.)

    …I suppose I ought to resign myself to the modern Erra…

  26. @John Dougan: Actually, I thought the casual term for a technology expert was spelled “techie”, not “tekkie,” but that may be mere pedantry.

    I’ve never once ever seen tekkie.

  27. @William:
    > Not “fast speech”. Sloppy speech.

    Linguists place a high value on describing languages as spoken, not as idealized, so descriptions such as “sloppy” are avoided. “Fast speech” is the term used in academic literature for describing such things, regardless of language or the perceived social status of the utterance. As speed generally carries with it a loss of precision and enunciation, you may interpret “fast” as “sloppy” if you wish.

    @Jorge:
    > Could it be that English has no system for classyfing words according to syllabic stress?

    Other than to say that the word has an accent in the first/second/third/last syllable, no.

    English words where the stress does not fall in the first syllable are almost universally Latinate borrowings (though such borrowings make up much of the vocabulary of the language these days).

    There is also a broad class of words, once again mostly Latinate, where the same word is interpreted as a noun if the stress is on the first syllable, and as a verb if the stress is in the second, but which words belong to that class is dialectically dependent. An example sentence is “He will permít you to get a pérmit, or else transfér you to the tránsfer section,” which for many speakers has the marked stresses, but my dialect uses tránsfer for both noun and verb.

    > The plural for “mouse” is “mice” and the plural for “louse” is “lice”; how come the plural for “house” isn’t “hice”? (I’m glad it isn’t, though. Yeesh!)

    There’s no really good reason that the plural of house isn’t hice, in German, it’s “Häuser”, which is equivalent to if the English were “hices”.

  28. You’re forgetting Australian slang which has the nice example of “hard yakka” (meaning hard work). And there, the pronunciation is as most native speakers would expect – rhyming with “flatter” in a non rhotic dialect.

  29. By the way, Eric, have you heard about the new hit song about a Russian politician standing on a box of crackers?

    (ROT13’d so you can guess before seeing the answer)

    “Chgva ba gur Evgm”

  30. >“Chgva ba gur Evgm”

    I actually zenned this one by noticing the word lengths.

    Dude, that’s terrible.

  31. > I actually zenned this one by noticing the word lengths.

    Ah. Since you’d been around in the Usenet era I had wondered if you might have had sufficient exposure to ROT13 to be able to recognize enough letters to piece it out. I hadn’t counted on you recognizing the phrase just from word lengths.

    > Dude, that’s terrible.

    My chief weapon is surprise. Surprise, and puns. My two chief weapons are… etc.

  32. >Those would be bad jokes Inanna time period.

    Oh, I don’t know. They’d probably have sounded better 3000 years ago – you know, over Gilgamesh networking.

  33. you know, over Gilgamesh networking

    With those low threuphrates, nothing sounded good. Including this.

  34. Jon Brase:

    Other than to say that the word has an accent in the first/second/third/last syllable, no.

    That’s a shame. The classification has its uses, such as when discussing the effect of syllabic stress on verse.

    “He will permít you to get a pérmit, or else transfér you to the tránsfer section,”

    Yeah, and you’ve got words like “bass”, “lead”, or “read”, where the pronunciation of the vowels varies. English is tricky. :-)

    …in German, it’s “Häuser”…

    I’d like to know how to form plural in German – specifically, in the case of dog breeds with German names. For example, I’m pretty sure the plural for “Dachshund” is “Dachshunde“; but how do you pluralize “Schnauzer” or “Weimaraner”?

  35. esr:

    Dude, that’s terrible.

    I didn’t get Jon’s pun, but I’m sure it wasn’t bad; I didn’t hear a horn playing descending notes. Er, this *is* Peabody’s Improbable History, isn’t it?

    Dan:

    It really is time for a Simpson-esque Aussie-style “Booting”…

    What? Eric’s given us thousands of hours of entertainment for free. How could we possibly boot him? If anything, he should boot us. ;-P

  36. >Er, this *is* Peabody’s Improbable History, isn’t it?

    That is funnier than you know, because I’ve been aware for a long time that Mr. Peabody was a significant childhood influence on my speech habits.

  37. >1. In Spanish, we have a way of classifying words according to syllabic stress.

    You also have the helpful accent mark over a stressed vowel in a non-standard location so you have no reason to ever get it wrong.

    >I’d like to know how to form plural in German – specifically, in the case of dog breeds with German names. For example, I’m pretty sure the plural for “Dachshund” is “Dachshunde“; but how do you pluralize “Schnauzer” or “Weimaraner”?

    You generally just have to look it up in the dictionary if you don’t have it memorized. The plural of Schnauzer happens to be … Schnauzer. (I couldn’t find Weimaraner there.)

  38. *sigh*

    I really hope I never see this thread aegean. It’s really troying my patience, but maybe one of these days you people will be wilion to leave it alone.

  39. I Dido. It’s odyssey such contortions in the language, but sometimes, also, it’s a muse sings.

  40. @Jorge:
    > That’s a shame. The classification has its uses, such as when discussing the effect of syllabic stress on verse.

    OK, yeah, poets have their own terms of art that they use. I think it just tends to be the type of metrical foot that the word corresponds to, though (iamb, trochee, etc), and none of the terms involved are in my active vocabulary.

    > Yeah, and you’ve got words like “bass”, “lead”, or “read”, where the pronunciation of the vowels varies. English is tricky. :-)

    Well, not having had a spelling reform in 700 years does that to a language. You can fairly reliably get the Chaucer-era pronunciation of a word from the modern spelling.

    > For example, I’m pretty sure the plural for “Dachshund” is “Dachshunde“; but how do you pluralize “Schnauzer” or “Weimaraner”?

    My instinct as a fairly fluent, but not native, speaker is to say that, in general, nouns ending in -er will be unchanged in the plural.

    > I didn’t get Jon’s pun, but I’m sure it wasn’t bad; I didn’t hear a horn playing descending notes.

    No, it was *really* bad. I had a whole chorus of trombones going as I typed it. “Puttin’ on the Ritz” is an old Irving Berlin song. Ritz is a brand of cracker popular in the US (unrelated, as far as I know, to the song).

  41. >“Puttin’ on the Ritz” is an old Irving Berlin song.

    I was also pretty sure that you intended to evoke the cabaret scene from “Young Frankenstein” that uses that song, vaguely identifying Putin with the bellowing monster. That part really was funny.

    Here it is.

  42. “Greece” is the word – it’s the word that you’ve heard. It’s got groove, it’s got meaning.

  43. >I’m Sidon against Eric on this one. Puns really Tyre me out.

    Well, I call that a Philistine attitude.

  44. The Monster:

    You also have the helpful accent mark over a stressed vowel in a non-standard location so you have no reason to ever get it wrong.

    Yes, but ignorance and sloppiness are both on the rise; one of the symptoms is that the accent mark tends to be applied inconsistently or omitted altogether.

    Jon Brase:

    OK, yeah, poets have their own terms of art that they use.

    Well, the classification is also vital to the rules for the use of the accent mark. (There are only three such rules; I may not remember everything I learned in elementary school, but I sure remember those three rules. I wish such knowledge were widespread among native speakers of Spanish.)

    “Puttin’ on the Ritz” is an old Irving Berlin song.

    I’ve heard it, though not necessarily in its original version.

    And thank you both for the info on the German breed names. :-) So the plural of “Schnauzer” and “Weimaraner” is unmarked, it seems. I understand the same is true of “Shar Pei”.

  45. Well, I call that a Philistine attitude.

    Shoulda told him to shove it up his Sassanid. Sidonways.

  46. >Shoulda told him to shove it up his Sassanid. Sidonways.

    Kick ’em in the Baals.

  47. esr you know, over Gilgamesh networking.

    I prefer Tolkien Ring.

    I have hopes of convincing an artist to draw my webcomic idea. In the comic, several characters decide to make jokes about JRR Tolkien band names. A partial list includes:

    Flock of Smeagols (My son’s idea.)
    Schlobby Osbourne and the Goblin Kings of Feedback
    Quiet Rioters of Rohan
    El Gondor Pasa
    Mage Against the Machine (Also my son)
    The Grond Illusion
    The Rings of Feedback
    Denethor Jr.
    Grond Funk Railroad
    Orc-Astral Manuvers in the Dark

  48. Troutwaxer:

    El Gondor Pasa

    I’d rather be a hobbit than an elf. Yes, I would. If I could, I surely would.

  49. >Well, I call that a Philistine attitude.

    Nobody wants to hear Masada the story.

  50. Do you know which airline caters to abominable snowmen in the Middle East?

    Yeti Had.

  51. @esr:
    > I was also pretty sure that you intended to evoke the cabaret scene from “Young Frankenstein” that uses that song, vaguely identifying Putin with the bellowing monster. That part really was funny.

    Nope. Never encountered it before tonight.

  52. >Nope. Never encountered it before tonight.

    Shocking.

    Watch the whole movie. It’s a classic that deserves its reputation.

  53. @Troutwaxer – “Flock of Smeagols” FTW!

    Give your son a High-Five from me :)

  54. esr:

    Watch the whole movie. It’s a classic that deserves its reputation.

    I wouldn’t advise Jon – or anybody – to approach that film with such high expectations; that way lies disappointment. My recollection is that Young Frankenstein is not particularly funny, and I say this as someone who’s willingly rewatched certain Brooks films (High Anxiety, Spaceballs, and Life Stinks) lots of times.

    I guess these matters are quite subjective. :-) Still, since you like Young Frankenstein so much, I’ll rewatch it if I get the chance. My attitude is neither “Eric is always right!” nor “Eric is always wrong!”, but rather “Eric is usually on to something”. ;-)

    Do you like Brooks’ TV show of the sixties, Get Smart?

  55. >Do you like Brooks’ TV show of the sixties, Get Smart?

    I enjoyed it back in its day. I haven’t seen an episode in probably forty-five years, though, so I don’t know how I’d react to it today.

  56. esr:

    …I don’t know how I’d react to [Get Smart] today.

    Yeah, I know what you mean. I gleefully watched the short-lived The Critic when I was fifteen (having had some cursory exposure to it at the age of four or thereabouts). Thirteen years later, being much better-equipped to get the cultural references, I’m rewatching it – this time in English, so nothing gets lost in translation. And while I still find the show enjoyable, I now perceive its shortcomings. It reminds me of your assessment of Dune: “a masterpiece, though in important respects a flawed one.”

    Nevertheless, it was deeply unfair to cancel a series with such wit and such likable characters after only two seasons; arguably, it was still trying to find its footing and had potential. Its mistreatment by Fox is made all the more outrageous by the undeserved longevity of The Simpsons, which became mediocre ’bout two decades ago and then at some point became unwatchable. Surely, Fox could have afforded to deign a promising show a third season!

  57. Puns as a matter of taste. After all, one man’s Mede is another man’s Persian.

  58. >Do you like Brooks’ TV show of the sixties, Get Smart?

    I found, as TV goes, that “Get Smart” was just slightly better than average, and every once in awhile I’m in the mood to see it again. Unfortunately, it’s not on cable in these parts, which is just a tiny bit disappointing. In short, I miss it by that much.

  59. @Troutwaxer – “Flock of Smeagols” FTW! Give your son a High-Five from me :)

    My son is a history buff and one day he told me that during the Vietnam war the North Vietnamese were having a crisis of morale, so they decided to make noodles in the shape of their leader’s faces so the important generals and party officials would always be with the ordinary people. Though these noodles showed the faces of many important party members, they were universally known as Pho Chi Minh.

  60. > Though these noodles showed the faces of many important party members, they were universally known as Pho Chi Minh.

    Not so funny if you know that “Phở” is actually pronounced “Fuh”

    Which is why I think a great name for a Vietnamese-Italian fusion restaurant would be Phở-geddabouddit.

    And a chef who makes really good Phở could have a place called “Phở King”. And if his name were Ah Sum, that would be Phở King Ah Sum.

  61. Couple of bands that don’t need to change their names.

    Night Ranger
    Screaming Trees

    Best Tolkien pun band names I can come up with

    Palantirs for Fears
    Wraith no More

  62. Troutwaxer:

    I found, as TV goes, that “Get Smart” was just slightly better than average…

    I agree.

    The Monster:

    Ph?-geddabouddit

    I’m bustin’ beans!

    Ph? King Ah Sum

    Too bad your special character keeps getting replaced by a question mark. I guess WordPress is not fucking awesome. ;-P

  63. > Which is why I think a great name for a Vietnamese-Italian fusion restaurant would be Phở-geddabouddit.

    While exploring Seattle in Google Maps, I happened upon a restaurant called “What the Phở”.

  64. According to relativity, there are four dimensions:

    Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.

  65. And if his name were Ah Sum, that would be Phở King Ah Sum.

    Nice! I would so eat there!

    Palantirs for Fears
    Wraith no More

    That’s the spirit!

  66. Jon Brase:

    According to relativity, there are four dimensions:
    Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.

    Ha, very good one. ^_^ Say, are “thyme” and “Thomas” the only English words where the ‘th’ is pronounced like a T?

    esr:

    Would it be valid in this thread to quote puns from ZAZ films and such?

  67. >Would it be valid in this thread to quote puns from ZAZ films and such?

    Er, what’s a ZAZ film?

    And we have standards around here. Best if you make up your own puns.

  68. Er, what’s a ZAZ film?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zucker,_Abrahams_and_Zucker

    And we have standards around here.

    I don’t see any. The closest thing to a standard I see here is the hacker emblem at the bottom. But no war flags or anything like that.

    Best if you make up your own puns.

    I just did. :-) But, as Jon would say, it was so bad that “I had a whole chorus of trombones going as I typed it.”

  69. > Say, are “thyme” and “Thomas” the only English words where the ‘th’ is pronounced like a T?

    I’m not sure off the top of my head, but the set is small.

    There also are dialects that universally convert th to t and d, but that’s not a feature of any standard/high prestige dialect.

  70. Phở King Ah Sum

    Browse around; you’ll quickly find entire sites where you can buy swag with some version of “Phở King”.

    Speaking of original puns, and also a pronunciation of “phở” that is nevertheless too good to ignore – there’s a military base near where I live, featuring a self-serve phở bar.

    (Let it sink in if you need.)

  71. (Wow. I copied and pasted the actual character and it still failed? Et tu, WordPress?)

  72. What’s even funnier is that (I’m fairly sure) they didn’t even realize the pun when they made it.

    And on top of all that, that phở bar gets rave reviews from the customers. It’s almost like they fucked up fucking up.

  73. Jon Brase:

    There also are dialects that universally convert th to t and d…

    That’s odd. By the way, I’ve joked about “Scarborough Fair” as well. But your pun was far better than my blatantly incomplete spoof.

    esr:

    Jorge: I’m confirming both of Jon Brase’s reports.

    Sorry, what do you mean? About the special cases in the pronunciation of ‘th’?

  74. >Sorry, what do you mean? About the special cases in the pronunciation of ‘th’?

    That’s it, yes.

  75. >(Wow. I copied and pasted the actual character and it still failed? Et tu, WordPress?)

    The actual character looks OK in the preview but doesn’t survive in the actual comment post. You have to use the HTML entity for it, which is & #7903; = ở

    That’s Phở King Ridiculous if you ask me. WordPress ought to take anything beyond basic ASCII as a literal Unicode character just fine.

    ESR says: I have edited this comment and some previous ones to fix the Unicode literals.

  76. No kicking; good/bad puns deserve long groans and eye-rollings.

    Consider yourself groooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaned at – and eye-rolled.

  77. esr:

    That’s it, yes

    Thanks.
    And now, I’d like to make an observation. It’s not a pun, but it caters to our love of language.

    I’ve noticed that the string “cat” pervades your life. Consider these facts:
    · you love cats, and currently own one;
    · your wife’s name is Catherine;
    · you were raised as a Catholic;
    · you wrote a bestseller titled The Cathedral and the Bazaar;
    · and – since you’re a Unix guru – you surely know everything about the cat utility.

    Had you noticed that pattern?

  78. >It’s almost like they fucked up fucking up

    This is surely a metaphở for something…

  79. This is surely a metaphở for something…

    Ohhh, that was a jolly good shot there…

  80. > This is surely a metaph? for something…

    This sub-thread reminds me of a time, years ago, when some co-workers and I went to a very popular ph? place for lunch. The line was all the way out the door, and as we were standing in the hot sun, I remarked to my co-workers that we were in the ph? queue.

  81. > I remarked to my co-workers that we were in the ph? queue.

    It’s weird. That pun works because almost everyone seems to have “you” and “ewe” as homophones, but it falls flat for me because I don’t, and queue for me rhymes with ewe, not you.

    But I’m not sure I’ve run into anybody else that distinguishes /ju/ from /iw/.

  82. That was supposed to read, “The Cathedral and the Bazaar“. That’s what I get for trying to nest a pair of “em” tags inside another.

    Not really, no.

    Heh. I guess it takes an outsider to notice that kind of things. And there’s more:
    · the acronym for The Cathedral and the Bazaar itself contains the “cat” string, and it’s your website’s URL;
    · you’ve visited Barcelona, which is located in Catalonia;
    · you seem to like a board game named Cathedral and another one named Settlers of Catan;
    · you seem to be interested in the history of warfare, which includes catapults and cataphracts;
    · and… have you visited the Italian city of Catania?

    I admit there was some speculation there, but it can’t be denied that we’re dealing with a paranormal phenomenon. Cue the X Files theme music. ;-P

  83. Certain Irish accents will reduce a “th” to something more like a “t”, except the tongue is placed more forward.

  84. >Certain Irish accents will reduce a “th” to something more like a “t”, except the tongue is placed more forward.

    Yeah, that sound is the voiced as opposed to unvoiced dental fricative – usually transcribed /dh/. A pretty common mutation of /th/ everywhere I visited in Ireland.

  85. > Yes. Yes, we probably do both deserve a swift kicking.

    They’ve only got little legs. It wouldn’t hurt.

    In other news: I thought this banter was Iraq in role!

  86. @Sarah Price:
    >that fell out of use because printing was coming into vogue

    No, this is a very recent revisionism. A modern myth. They fell out of use 100 years earlier.

    There are a lot of mad-fantasies-presented-as-myth by “modern” typographers — you would be well advised to take them all with a huge grain of salt. AKA outright disregard. I animadvert you to the landmark (first ever and still one of the most thorough) research into some of them in the early 80s: “Communicating, or just making pretty shapes?” by Colin Wheildon. Get his 1st & 2nd edition Quarto research papers — the later book editions were hijacked by would-be editors trying meme-fashion to make them into textbooks: they are rubbish, get the original via a uni network.

    Another fantasy, related but less recent, is that double spacing after a full stop is modern and wrong. That’s incorrect. It’s actually traditional typography, dating back long before typography at all (i.e., traditional calligraphy), and continued thereafter (except for a brief burst in the late 1400s later described as a mistake) until quite recently in historical terms.
    Interestingly, for those of a cultural-studies bent, the latter myth appears to be entirely the construction of single isolatable group and from a very narrow period of time: the University of Chicago Press and the early/mid 90s. Macintosh DTP was a primary mechanism/excuse.
    See: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sentence_spacing&oldid=221271771 (the last “French Spacing” article before it got sucked irrevocably into the revisionist wars)

    And anyone who likes to see old physical skills, now automated (Donald Knuth basically imitated them with Tex, to get around the vast shortcomings of the then-“modern” replacements), shown at their best:
    https://archive.org/details/Typesett1960

    Hot metal…

    (Eric, I think you’ll like that “Salesian training video”. If nothing else, for its simple physicality/real-life-ness. “Automatic typesetting of complete lines!” (I always thought “hot metal” really just meant hard-working machines & hence the type — the slugs are actually cast (i.e., poured, liquid — freezing into the printing head)!
    Just the panning shot across the single edition is worth the price of admission. “Ehhhhh… eh!?!!! …. oh christ they’re still going!”
    Little hacker cultural note: we all now regard a 3-4 x 12 keyboard (+some twiddlies) as normal: a 6×15 bank looks like a wall. Gotta love the constantly rotating cam.
    Not a camera — a cam.
    Lugs are absolutely critical. Metadata at work. Go go gadget alphachannel.
    Love the unconscious use of a long-bladed double-edged knife as a pointing device, too. Because that’s a completely normal tool to have when printing, back then. (Only 50 years ago..)

    How much awesome hackery was done in times afore, to get to this machinery…?
    Not mentioned in the video — the achievement of ultracorrect spacing via additional spacing with.. hacksaw blades. They do show springs (essentially) performing proportional spacing. “This is called Justification.”

    The end is the worst. “At this point…” no-oooooooooo!
    )

    We are still a long way backward, from a reader’s perspective, from the 19th Century. You can casually and for hours read a 19C book set in 6pt and even 4pt type — good luck today with even 8pt)

    (this is not funny, but it is ancient and it is awesomely geekery)

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