Thursday, June 28, 2007

Petting and Peeving


A little while ago, I was one of the winners in a contest that Nora held. The prize? Merino Cashmere Sock yarn which is "cheerfully handpainted" from The Knittery. Their yarn is so yummy that it was on back order for a short while, but it arrived this week. (Although it was indeed just a short while, one of the other winners has already finished a pair of socks with her prize.)

Anyway, mine is now sitting on my desk so I can look at it, and pet it. And pet it. And pet it.

It's gorgeous, and it feels wonderful. Thank you, Nora! The colour, by the way, is Moonlight.

While I was corresponding with Nora and making arrangements, she was amused to note that we Canadians, like Australians, spelled "colour" like ... well, colour. Nora, I hereby promise that I shall savour this glamourous yarn, endeavouring to honour this wonderful favour. Knitting these cool colours will surely help to calm the clamour of everyday life, providing harbour from everyday stresses. I will valourously and rigourously labour to maintain the soothing flavour and demeanour of your gift. In all candour, I hope my skills are sufficient to produce a pattern that truly reflects the vapourous quality and behaviour of Moonlight. Eventually. But first I want to pet it some more.


I don't normally rag on people for things, much prefering to live and let live. However, several times this week I've run across something that has raised my rancour. (Ha! Found another one!) People: the word "infamous" does not mean "very famous." According to Webster's, it means "having an evil reputation." It can also be defined as detestable, or, legally, as deprived of certain rights as a citizen, as a consequence of conviction of certain offenses or pertaining to offenses involving such deprivation. More simply, according to the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, it means "when someone or something is famous for something considered bad." If you want to be nice to someone, please don't call them "infamous." If you use that word, you are likely saying the opposite of what you intend. Please save it for Lee Harvey Oswald, or Marilyn Monroe, depending upon which conspiracy theory you follow. Thank you.

Private note to the legal-type people representing Marilyn's estate, her heirs, etc.: The reference above to Marilyn Monroe was a small attempt at humour. (Ha! Even another one!) I by no means believe that Marilyn was involved with UFOs, the Bermuda Triangle, or conspirators. I view her death, and that of RFK, as one of the great tragedies of our time. Thank you for your understanding.

40 people had something to say:

Meg said...

To say that I am humbled by your linguistic wit would be an understatement... yours is one blog which will never be infamous for its standards of grammar!

Nora said...

Yes indeed! It later occurred to me that it all has to do with a little thing-y called THE COMMONWEALTH... Bemused, to say the least.

Enjoy your yarn my friend. x

PS: Wendy is rather quick isn't she.

Opal said...

Truly gorgeous yarn. Unfortunately I couldn't find anymore of that colourway (ha!) at that site. I guess I'll just have to keep checking back there to see if they'll get more in. That merino/cashmere sounds like it's just to die for and it's so reasonably priced!

LaurieM said...

These days you just never know when it comes to language. Perhaps someone was trying to be cool. Just the way saying something is "bad" or "phat" or "nasty" is good, perhaps saying someone is "infamous" has come to mean that they are famous for being "bad" with their "nasty" skills.

Yeah, I don't think so either.

Paula said...

That merino/cashmere probably has a nice fibre-y odour too.

HPNY Knits said...

trust Nora to send a luxurious and elegant yarn! its goooorgeous! (thats how we spell gorgeous in the NYC when it is really really really so...)

Stacey said...

Being an american, I actually prefer the british/canadian spellings of all those wonderful words. they just look more sophisticated....and they are more fun to spell!

wow - that color from the knittery is amazing. my hubby would love it!

trek said...

Bugs me to no end when people use words incorrectly - like infamous -and when they use words that do not even exist - like irregardless.

Wendy said...

It's so funny that you mention the issue with people using "infamous" instead of "famous." Just last night I found a comment on a KAL blog referring to me as "infamous." This always grates on my nerves. I left a comment suggesting gently that the person who used the word might want to look it up to see what it really means.

I consider it an honour to be in the great pantheon of Black Dog prizewinners with you. You chose a lovely colour. ;-)

SJ said...

So I'm not the only one appalled by the constant misuse of the English language! I could go on an on about words used incorrectly -- but then again, I do, it's my job!

Gorgeous yarn, by the way. Just the colorway I'd pick out!

Rachel said...

Very impressive wordplay! You just might become infamous for your ability to think up "-our" words.

Yes yes, deliberate misuse.

KnitNana said...

Thank you. I'm like many of your commenters here, and you, too, Dave. I was taught proper grammar and spelling (ok, truth told, I was GRILLED in it!), I have taught grammar, and I am appalled by the apparent lack of understanding of (or total disregard - contempt? - for) our language. While I have a vanity plate, myself, I sigh over the fact that it (and IMs, text-msgs and the like) will likely assign proper spelling to oblivion.

The use of the INCORRECT prefix makes me crazy, too. As an example, too many use "un-" when they really should use "in-" and vice versa.

Thoroughly enjoyed your essay, in every way. I suspect this post just might make you famous - at least in certain linguistic, knitterly circles! (Please note, I omitted the IN- on that word...I mean that in the nicest possible way!)

Jennifer said...

I like the spelling colour. It's right up there with grey instead of gray for me. :-)

Gorgeous yarn.

Judy said...

oooooo... that's such pretty yarn. I wants me some. (showing off my finely honed, mad English skills)

My pet peeve is "prolly," as in "I'll prolly buy some of that yarn today."

The word is "probably."

Thank you.

Carol said...

Pretty pretty yarn! My hubby gets driven absolutely batty by grammatical errors and the like in newspapers. So you are not alone!

Magatha said...

Your "-ou" paragraph is a thing of beauty! Well done!
I once worked for a British company and acquired the -ou spelling habit and still have to correct myself for US English spelling every time, especially with the word, 'colour'. I think the word looks better with the 'u' and I think it is because I was taught to read with phonics. It seems right to the pronunciation that it should have a 'u'. I say it 'cull-oor' not 'cull-oar'.

Yes, I haven't paid attention because I am so busy ignoring all that irks me, but we have distorted the meaning of the word 'infamous'. 'Famous' used to mean something like 'good' in the past. As in, "We got along, famously!" So 'infamous' would have meant something bad.
Ask someone what this means , "A day that will live in infamy!"

Jackie said...

I am SOOOO very glad to see someone else who hates improper use of the word infamous. When I was in my Junior year of High School, my history teacher assigned a 5 pg written report. I forget which president I chose for my topic, but a large portion of my paper was dedicated to why he was infamous. I worked really hard on this paper was was really proud of it. When it was handed back after the teacher graded it, I was shocked to see a B. I opened it up and every single time I used the word infamous, she had crossed it out and with red ink wrote 'famous', and a note at the end about improper word use. That was the only error she saw in my paper. after class I went to her and asked her why she had done this when infamous was the word I had intended to use and it was the correct word. She then asked me if I knew what infamous meant, I said I did, and she interrupted me and said "infamous means really famous". I told her she was wrong and that it meant famous for doing something wrong or illegal. She told me I was wrong, so I ended up raising hell in the principals office with the History teacher, my English teacher and a dictionary. After that I got an apology and my A. Thinking about it still irritates me.

on a much more pleasant note, that yarn is absolutely BEAUTIFUL!

Sarah said...

Ooooo! I want to pet that yarn! It's lucious! (did I even spell that right, you've got me thinking now!)

Judy G. said...

The yarn is beautiful, but more importantly, I have a pet grammatical peeve: the misuse of it's, or its. It stands out more than fingernails on a chalkboard, and I cringe every time I see it. (My son's yearbook actually had "its'" on the cover; a hitherto unseen misuse. I blanche...)

I refer amateur and professional grammarians to the book "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" by Lynne Truss. It comes with a punctuation repair kit so you can share your love of correct punctuation with unenlightened persons in your sphere. I don't know about anyone else, but I sleep better knowing that I am not alone in my discomfort.

kay said...

Beautiful yarn! I'm sure you will be the envy of your neighbourhood (HA!)

My pet language peeve is people who use the word 'ignorant' in reference to people who are acting like idiots or being amazes me how ignorant these people are to the actual meaning of the word ignorant.

I also hate 'irregardless' and when people say "in regards to..." It's either 'regarding' or 'with regard to' with no extra 's'...but I must confess I'm also one of those picky grammatical error finders. I blame it on an over-zealous English teacher back in Junior High.

Chelsea said...

I think that infamous is similar to notorious, right? I'm sorry - I'm an English/Literature major but I mostly focus on the literature part, not the grammar (funny how they stop teaching it to you as you are in the advanced courses - they assume that you know everything in that area already - wrongly so. ;) I think that your blog is so fun to read. I love your comments on things like "colour" and other similar things. I think that this (infamous) is a perfect example. Your sense of humor and the things that annoy you speak to me. ;)

Thanks for sharing the gorgeous yarn. I'm curious to see what it turns into. I do hope that you share it with us!

lexa said...

Love the new yarn! I don't blame you for keeping it on your desk to pet!

Anonymous said...

Lovely language discussion! I very much agree with the comments from all sides. Nice looking wool too.

JessaLu said...

Love the yarn - those colors are gorgeous!

tiennie said...

Such pretty yarn! Enjoy and congrats!

BTW - I much prefer the -our over the -or but feel I may be pretentious if I use it being an American.

Manda said...

I always reserve the right to pick and choose between American and British/Australian spelling and grammar whenever I feel like it. :-) I don't add u's to everything but "grey" just looks better than "gray", and American punctuation often makes little sense.

In addition to the correct definition, I use "infamous" to describe something that's not necessarily bad but has become so popular that I'm tired of hearing about it. For example, I might call the Clapotis and Jaywalker patterns infamous as just about ever knitter has done them at one point or another. I guess the word I'm actually looking for is legendary. Oh well. If that makes me an offender, I'm sorry.

Dave said...

Manda: You've left no email address, so I'll respond here. I think the word you want is "ubiquitous." Although I am certainly not against, in fact, enjoy, a language living and growing, I don't believe in just redefining words willy-nilly.

Kim said...

Being an US citizen with Canadian
ancestry - color/colour, humor/humour, labor/labour and all the other or/our it is all the language of love to me. My Aunt Anne was the most famous Aunt of all. She lived in Petroila, Ont (probably spelled incorrectly) an in her late 60's would hang lollipops in the bushes for us kids to find when we come to her home for our family reunion. We may all be different but it is all a language of love!!!

BTW the color of the yarn is just gorgeous! I can't wait to see what you create with the yummyness!

Carrie K said...

That yarn is gaspingly gorgeous. Sadly, I can't think of a single solitary "ou" word (Now. Later I'm sure dozens will leap to mind.)

So are we confessing language peeves? It drives me crazy when someone uses the slang "balling" for the word bawling. People, they are NOT the same thing.

auntiemichal said...

I had a grade school teacher mark "had had" as wrong (it wasn't) in a paper once and it became one of my pet peeves. Then a grammar teacher presented this punctuation puzzle:

Where John had had had Ralph had had had had had had was correct.

Correctly punctuated, it is:

Where John had had "had," Ralph had had "had had;" "had had" was correct.

I wish I'd had that bit of ammunition back when! LOL

BTW, does the use of insure for ensure bother you too?

Terri in Waskesiu said...

yeah, what everyone else has commented!

My own particular annoyance is unnecessary apostrophes. As in "I have five cat's". It drives me particularly wild when it's on menus, signs, and the like. Oh, and also when people use "it's" when they mean "its" as in the possessive form of the impersonal pronoun "it".

Carrie said...

I am sure writing this blog entry was very arduous, but it was masterfully done! Beautiful sock yarn.

Oo, oo, another pet peeve that's misunderstood, is "penultimate." People frequently use it as "ultra ultimate" or better than ultimate. Don't know why, but adding my two cents here has been very entertaining =) Have a great day!

marjorie said...

I'm not sure when those of us in the US got so-called "British spellings" beat out of us--I think it happened in the 1960s. As a child, I learned to double my consonants for words like cancelled and bussed, but even the evil genie in Microsoft Word that is so fond of fixing my (often correct) spelling gets on me when I do this. It was also ok back then to use "-our" also. One thing I hate though is when US marketers use British spelling to seem classy. It is not spelling that does that.

And another pet peeve around here is to use "obscene" when one means "absurd".

Great sock yarn!


Ghislaine said...

Wonderful yarn!

My greatest annoyances: people who do not know the difference between affect/effect and advice/advise.

One more: lose/loose. I cringe when someone writes "I'd like to loose some weight"!

nova said...

Beautiful yarn Dave, nice choice! I am in the same boat as Tiennie. I much prefer the -our for endings (as appropriate, of course); but yes, it might be viewed as pretentious to some (my being an American and all).

fleegle said...

I should just follow you around the internet and order whatever yarn your buy. I love them all.

aquaknits said...

It's very funny that you've tapped into a pet peeve I think we all seem to have. Perhaps knitters are just more articulate than the average person?

And I go on record as being a stubborn 'color' person, though I do really like 'grey' better.

- typing this comment very carefully--I have the sudden feeling that a typo or grammatical error will get me scolded by the masses. :P said...

Yes, that's one of my peeves too. I also dislike the mis-use of ' as in it's, is not possessive, it's "it is". Beautiful yarn.

SheepsPyjamas said...

I quite enjoyed your post (when I do take liberties with the language, I'm generally at least aware that I am... or I hope I am, at least...)

I once met someone on-line that prided himself on his writing skills; in fact, his interest in me stemmed from his enjoying my writing. He wrote a glowing post, quite the warm fuzzy, which ended by noting that my writing style was quite prosaic, often romantic. If I recall, I merely "arch[ed my] eyebrow". Even better, he later told me that I was "infamous" for a wonderful piece of code I had written...

Gray vs. grey: I tend to use them both. Somehow I've managed to associate gray with a lighter, more pastel tone and grey with a slate type color. I suppose most folks simply interpret my writing as inconsistent when I use them together, but I do use them both.

Great topic, quite interesting!

Dawn ; ) said...

I agree w/Stacey ~ I use "colour" quite abit. I love the language the way it was originally written. btw, that is some lovely yarn. thx for sharing ~ I absolutely enjoy reading your blog.