Where even to start — some of these 29 are really interesting.  From the end-point of the Great Wall of China (swim around that) to an eye-widening close-up of the human tongue.  And what pugs looked like before a century of selective breeding.  And octopus eggs!


Dean Poneman:TIAA-CREF is one of the two companies that does not pay sales incentives on annuity sales. We also do not pay commissions. It was a little disappointing that the Warren report you linked to failed to name us in that regard.”


It’s “less than” if you can’t count them — like water or happiness; “fewer than” if you can — like ice cubes or orgasms. Fewer rules, less regulation.  More nuance here.  (E.g., why we say “less than ten bucks” even though you can count dollars.  Also, the singular rule: “less than one” rather than “fewer than one” because one, like water or happiness, is singular.)

It’s “for-TAY” if you’re banging loudly at the piano; “fort” if your talent is playing the piano.  Both spelled “forte.”  My forte is annoying people with stuff like this — more here — a battle we seem to be losing, as some dictionaries now deem both pronunciations as acceptable, but I cling, lichen-like to the past.

Likewise, please, “none is” — none of us is a pianist; none of us has annuities in our IRAs, none of them is purple.  Right?  Not one!   More on that here.  (Some argue that none, in addition to meaning “not one,” can mean “not any.”  Are any of them purple?  No, not any of them are.)

First of all, I like you. Second (not “second of all”), I’d pretend to even if I didn’t because I’m running for office.  More here and here.

This does not “beg the question” of whether I’d be any good running for office, even though it may raise that question — and even though the battle to preserve the original sense of “beg the question” seems all but irretrievably lost.  Here.

This – is a hyphen (not a dash).  This — is a dash.

And while not a peeve, exactly, it may be helpful to know that you can make a little money in bar bets asking people to spell amplify, rarify, qualify, deify, and liquify.  Because in fact it’s rarefy and liquefy (also: putrefy and stupefy).

You would lead up to this gradually.

First, wait for your mark to consume several beers.  Next, play “fuzzy duck” with him (“I say fuzzy, you say duck”).  He has heard this one a million times and confounds you — to your feigned chagrin — by not slipping up when at last you say “duzzy.”  Now is when you spring the trap: “Well, okay, but I’ll bet you twenty bucks you can’t spell amplify, rarefy, qualify, deify, and liquefy.”


(Oh, no — wait.  In fact-checking this just now I see that civilization, like an isotope, continues to decay.  The “ify” spellings are now listed as alternates.  I give up.)

(Oh but wait, wait!  I just dictated “amplify, rarify, qualify, deify, and liquify” into my iPhone and it came out “amplify, rarefy, qualify, deify, and liquefy.”   We win!)



Comments are closed.