Wednesday, March 21, 2012

If They're Yearning to Break Free, Why Are They Huddling?

Emma Tietel, MacLean's token young person columnist (look kids, aren't newsmagazines cool?) wrote a piece recently decrying the neutering (as it were) of gay-straight alliance clubs by Catholic school boards in Ontario.

You can just see it in lights: the club's mission statements, and the Catholic boards' iconoclastic revision to Emma Lazarus's legendary sonnet: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to break free...oh yeah, also your gay, bisexual, transgendered...anyone with acne."

Not sure I get that. But anyway, speaking of iconoclastic revisions, when the French sent over Lady Liberty, the poem on the card that was attached to the gift bag spoke of "huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

Monday, March 05, 2012

Hold the Homophone*

Cherry shouldn't be silenced
So goes the headline to Province sports columnist Ed Willes's articulate defense of the outrageously inarticulate (and undeniably entertaining) hockey bloviater Don Cherry. The subheading explains:
New media puts CBC under pressure to sensor commentator
Now if they were talking about applying sensors to Cherry's cranium that would deliver a bracing A/C jolt every time he was detected pronouncing Quebec as Cue-bec, I could see the point. But of course the story is about the latest effort to stifle Cherry's more outlandish opinions--in other words, to censor him.

Meanwhile, do you remember the MPMan? Of course not; nobody does. A piece in The Atlantic today explains how the device, the first portable MP3 player, was destined for failure. This sentence sets the stage by describing the success of the MPMan's progenitor:
For a decade after its launch, Sony's Walkman retained a 50% market share in the U.S. (46% in Japan) in a space teaming with competitors, even as it enjoyed a price premium of approximately $20 over rival offers.
The phrase "teaming with competitors" is practically a contradiction in terms, since one usually competes against one's competitors. It's nonsensical, but that's because the word the author meant to use here is teeming, as in "overflowing, maggoty, out-the-wazoo with superabundance."  Another example of sound-alike cousins being mistaken for each other.

*From Wikipedia: "In linguistics, a homonym is, in the strict sense, one of a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings. Thus homonyms are simultaneously homographs (words that share the same spelling, irrespective of their pronunciation) and homophones (words that share the same pronunciation, irrespective of their spelling)."
Not that it matters--as far as Rick Santorum is concerned none of them should be allowed to marry.