semperfiona: American flag superimposed with "American. Liberal. Voter." (liberal)
This election has poisoned a lot of my vocabulary. “Tremendous” and “huge” are both suspect, unless I am intentionally evoking the ghost of the toupeed pumpkinhead, and why would I want to do that. Back in 2008 I lost “you bet” and “you betcha” to Sarah Palin. Those were less painful losses, as I’ve mostly moved away from the Northern Midwest where my accent picked them up.

But now I can’t use the word “trump”, even in a card game, without cringing inwardly. Pinochle and hearts and sheepshead and euchre and even Five Crowns are dear to my competitive little heart, and the word “trump” is rather important to all those games.
Basically, if it’s a card game with trick-taking and trump cards, I’m likely to love it. (Except I never got the hang of bridge. Mostly because I stopped hanging out with the person I started to take bridge lessons with, and the only other person I knew who played was my grandmother, who had dementia by then and could no longer play.)

Pinochle was the family game. Both my dad’s family and my mom’s, even though they were from completely different backgrounds and locations. So of course they taught me and my sister to play from the age of eight or so. It was a big deal when we were both good enough at it that we could partner each other and hold our own against our parents. It’s still the default activity whenever I’m around my parents or aunts, although neither Rosa nor her cousins play, nor did most of mine ever learn, because my aunts didn’t marry men who played or were willing to learn.

Back when I was still married to Ray, we tried teaching him. He learned, sort of, but was a very bad loser, and quickly began to refuse to play. He will still occasionally trot out “I once maimed a man playing pinochle” if the topic happens to come up. He is one of those people who, having once found a phrase or saying funny, will repeat it endlessly until you are ready to strangle him to make it stop.

In high school, I taught a group of my friends to play pinochle, and we used to play every day over lunch. But I lived in Wisconsin, where the trick-taking game of choice is sheepshead, so of course I wanted to learn to play. I can’t tell you how many times I was told it was impossible to learn unless you’d grown up with it. My parents, having come from elsewhere and moved to Wisconsin as adults, didn’t play. Presumably their friends also refused to teach them. In any case, eventually I convinced someone to teach me, and played it for several years on church retreats and such, until I moved out of the state and no longer had anyone to play with.
I fetched up in Indiana, where the local game was euchre. And people were willing to teach it, even. Again, played for several years, and then moved out of state.

Now I’m lucky if I get to play cards once every six months or so, for no particularly good reason except lack of convenient flat surface to play on. Tammie knows pinochle, but there are only two of us and it’s really not that great as a two-person game. Though I did meet someone over the weekend who knows the game. Hmmm.
semperfiona: (amber)
Fiona...is sitting in a library in a big old house in Westchester NY with Corwin.

This morning I decided it was time for my quasi-sesquiannual reread, or in this case re-listen, of the Chronicles of Amber. My commute takes three chapters.

I recently reread (or re-listened) to two of the other books on the quasi-sesquiannual reread list: Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay and The Lord of the Rings; this is the remaining one. Those three books (or series) are, along with The Fionavar Tapestry, my desert island book list: the books I cannot live without, no matter how well I know them I have to reimmerse myself in their words and their worlds every so often.

(I spent the walk in from the car trying to determine what is the appropriate word for 'approximately every year-and-a-half'. Can't use semi- as a prefix to mean 'about', since in the context of a measurement of time it always means 'half'. Guess we better go with quasi-. Not sure I've ever actually seen or heard sesquiannual, but it ought to mean what I want it to, so.)
semperfiona: (demon baby)
Rosa doesn't swear. At all. Which is pretty weird in that she lives in a household of people who swear all the time, but she says she just doesn't see the need. It's probably just as well for her, since I wouldn't put it past her father's family to punish her for it.

Instead, she has taken to using absurd multisyllabic multi-word phrases as insults. I think the surrealists would be proud.

Some examples:

Mayonnaise kumquat
Inconsiderate microwaved piece of soap
Pretentious crouton
Egg covered mailbox flag
semperfiona: (demon baby)
Yesterday, Rosa inquired, "Mom, how do you spell sha-den-frood?"

I said, "It's sha-den-froy-duh, and it's spelled schadenfreude."

I love her vocabulary, even if she's got the same 'met it in writing, not sure how to pronounce it' that is common to those of us who read widely.

She's currently reading _His Majesty's Dragon_ and loving it to bits, B T dubs.

These two facts are not necessarily related; I'm pretty sure schadenfreude doesn't occur in that book or at least not named as such. The word is too newly established in English to belong in a book about the Napoleonic Wars. (Etymonline has it dated 1922 and a reference from 1852 to its existence in German. I don't have a membership to the OED online, and our hardcopy is at home.)
semperfiona: (rosa crowned)
While cleaning out old papers, I just found some very old sheets of yellow paper on which I had written down Rosa's known vocabulary at the time.

2/11/01 )

3/10/01 )

Not-a-word

Feb. 27th, 2013 08:27 am
semperfiona: (dragon)
I've been looking at fonts this morning. I've got two tattoos in mind that require them but I'm very picky. One I'm thinking about is a text tattoo, of 'there is a crack in everything/it's how the light gets in' (punctuation tbd). So I have the sample sentence set to 'there is a crack in everything'. Didn't take long at all before both 'crack' and 'everything' no longer look like words. Oddly enough, they just changed back again now that I'm typing them in a normal size and a font I'm used to.

The other is just '&', at a nice large size. That is even trickier for font selection, since designers tend to get fancy with the special characters. I'm not quite sure what fanciness level I want.
semperfiona: (Default)
I went to Wisconsin this past weekend to visit my parents. People who've been reading this journal for a while will know they are very devout Christians, who never use profane or obscene language. While visiting, I always strive to curtail my own rather salty vocabulary.

So it rather confounded me when, on the first day, my mother called some pesky problem "those buggers". I dithered over whether to enlighten her on the meaning of the phrase, but decided all it would accomplish would be her mortification. Couldn't see the point of that, so I kept my amusement to myself.

Something similar happened a few years ago at work. That time, my coworker looked up the word himself, to his great consternation. After skimming fourteen months of old posts, I found it in 2004: my coworker embarrasses himself quoting Austin Powers
semperfiona: (misbehave)
So I just discovered that I seem to have deleted some work-in-progress...and I swore under my breath: "Ah, SHARK!"

I think I like it.
semperfiona: (work motto)
I just spent a tedious half hour watching a sexual harassment prevention training video. Lots of blatant examples of bad behavior, but I am feeling the need for vengeance on behalf of the English language.

"Intimidating or demeaning language is automatically sexual harassment." Hello? It is most certainly harassment, and is very likely to be discrimination, depending on what was said, but in what world is intimidation part of sex?

An example from one of the vignettes: "What's the difference between Bigfoot and a smart woman? Bigfoot has been spotted!" Discrimination and misogyny, absolutely; harassment if it keeps up, certainly, but where's the sexual content in that? Yet the narrator kept insisting that it was sexual harassment.

Why can't they just say that harassment OF ANY KIND is unacceptable, without having to stretch definitions beyond their breaking point?
semperfiona: (knitting)
I subscribed to Knitting Daily. The recent discussions have been about shaping, which is fine, useful and interesting. But I'm being aggravated by the writer's continual cutesy references to breasts as The Girls or The Ladies. Never does she use the word breasts. Grrr!

"stove in"

Feb. 27th, 2008 12:16 pm
semperfiona: (Default)
T'other day we drove past a damaged vehicle which I didn't see, and when I asked what Chris had been commenting on, he said, "A car with its side stove in."

At which point I wondered aloud what the present tense verb was. Stave, steve, stove, maybe it's not a verb at all...?

Here's what dictionary.com has to say: short version: it's stave )
semperfiona: (entitlement couch)
Late last night, my sleepy brain came up with this phrase: "entitlement couch". It's a red velvet fainting couch, that one swoons onto when stapling one's hand to one's forehead is insufficiently dramatic to portray the outrageous slings and arrows one is suffering.
semperfiona: (Default)
I just saw this on [livejournal.com profile] stlpdheadlines:

Man, 18, shot to death at ESL
club


I've lived in St. Louis since 1990, and my linguistics degree is even
older than that, but I still read this as "English-as-Second-Language".
Took me a while to realize it meant "East St. Louis".
semperfiona: (version stupid)
My fingers on autopilot just produced the interesting construction "anythat".
semperfiona: (scrabble)
What is the collective noun for a group of rats?


semperfiona: (dragon)
From [livejournal.com profile] dakiwiboid, who gave me the letter "P"!

Comment, and I shall give you a letter. Go back to your journal, and write ten words beginning with that letter, including an explanation of what the word means to you and why.


So, what shall I say about "P"? I free-associated on words starting with P and the following are what I got. There are more than ten; I wrote down words for a while and then went back to add commentary on them, intending to cut those of no interest. Once I'd done the commentary I didn't want to cut anything. But this is the original order of the words, if not the order I commented on them. cut for possible nsfw text (no graphics) )

What? No penguins? (Pronounced "Pen-ju-ins" at our house.)

Baby teeth

May. 24th, 2005 10:02 am
semperfiona: (rosa crowned)
Suddenly, I have gained understanding about Ray's mother. When he and I
were packing for our move to England just after our wedding, I
encountered something that made me shriek in startled disgust. He had a
little cardboard display with two pink clay arcs holding all twelve of
his baby teeth. Ma had given it to him as a graduation present. Somehow
those teeth "disappeared" in the move process.

But now, I regret having done that, and I understand why she had kept
them. I kept Rosa's first "lost tooth", too (must find a place to hide
it where she won't find it any time soon). I still don't get why Armida
thought the preserved teeth would be a good graduation present, though.

Rosa lost hers at school yesterday, but wasn't sure where or when.
Luckily, when she was getting her ritual drink from the
bubbler1 before going home, there it was. I'm not clear on
whether it was in the bubbler or on the floor near it, but all the same,
it was found and secured, and put safely under her pillow at bedtime.

About ten-thirty, Chris asked whether I wanted to do the transfer that
night or wait until morning. I chose the night, and it's a good thing I
did. This is a child who never gets up before 8:30 if she can help it,
but before seven o'clock this morning, Ochi comes bounding downstairs to
show off what the Tooth Fairy had brought her (a shiny Sacajawea
dollar). She insisted on taking it with her to show to Grandma today,
too.

1 Over the last twenty years I've mostly eradicated "bubbler"
from my vocabulary. For some reason nobody outside the Milwaukee area
gets it. But today I feel like using it. For those of you who didn't
spend your formative years in Wisconsin, substitute "drinking fountain".
semperfiona: (scrabble)
What's the opposite of hypochondriac?

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