Blargh Blog

Sunday, September 12, 2004

"That depends on the definition of 'of' " and other ling questions

- Give the definition of the word "of" as it is used in the following context, and provide one other example in which the word "of" is used in the same way: "A predatory bird is known as a bird of prey."

- If you’d like to go by two letters, rather than a first name, it helps a lot for one of those letters to be a "J". Why is this?

- Many people complain about the word "literally" being used to add emphasis to figurative phrases. How is this usage different from the use of the word "veritable" to stress the aptness of a metaphor? Why don't people complain about "veritable"?

- When you think about it, doesn't the word "frosting" imply a beautiful image? Sugar coats these flakes of corn, like frost on a blade of grass.

2 Comments:

At September 14, 2004 11:58 PM, Blogger Neal said...

Regarding 'of': Even without 'bird of prey,' there are many meanings for 'of.' I'll admit, though, this one is the most idiosyncratic one, limited apparently to one phrase, and meaning "gimme an X and a Y and I'll join them together to mean 'an X that hunts Y.'"

Two letters vs. a name: You mean, like, J. Jonah Jameson? That's the only one that comes to mind right away.

Regarding 'literally': Yeah, my friend Greg likes to use 'figuratively' where others sloppily use 'literally.' "She figuratively beat the shit out of him!" Somehow it doesn't quite work, though. I'm sure there's a pragmatics-based story to tell about it. For that matter, you can add 'very' (from Fr. meaning "truly") and 'really' to the list. They're so far gone that even the 'literal' literalists don't complain about them.

 
At September 15, 2004 1:28 AM, Blogger Blar said...

By people who go by two letters, I'm referring to those like athletes J. T. Snow, O. J. Simpson, J. R. Rider, B. J. Armstrong, and J. J. Stokes and television characters CJ from West Wing and DJ from Full House. It seems particularly surprisingly that J is so common both as the first letter and as the second letter in these names of two initials.

 

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