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~ The Write Way ~

Friday 2 March 2001

Native Trees and Car Parks


Isn't it funny how little things really grate on your nerves at times? I mean, we tolerate politicians with their snouts in the trough, developers who raze our last remaining stands of native trees to build car-parks and The Bold and the Beautiful, but we start gnashing our teeth and beating our breasts over little things ... 

Such as the use of 'and' when it should be 'or.'

Take a look at these three little sentences:

His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork. (Mae West)

He's liked, but he's not well liked. (Arthur Miller)

Either he's dead or my watch has stopped. (Groucho Marx)

The meanings are quite clear, aren't they? The conjunctions do their jobs well.

But, look what happens when you jumble these:

His mother should have thrown him away or kept the stork. (Mae West)

The meaning is now quite different; instead of a definite action - discarding the unhappy individual and keeping the stork, there's now an element of doubt.

Change the conjunction in these sentences and they become totally confusing:

He's liked, and he's not well liked. 

He's liked, or he's not well liked. 

Either he's dead but my watch has stopped. 

Either he's dead and my watch has stopped. 

And joins like events; or separates different events and but indicates an exception or condition that applies. It sounds so simple - why do so many advertisers, newsreaders, commentators and street signs get it so wrong? Aargh!

Well ... that feels better. This is (another) of my little peeves - and it's great being able to let off steam about things like this ... aah the joys of a newsletter :)

Last week's tale about the Tong Master led Rick to confirm that this behaviour isn't limited to the Antipodean male:

"The barbie story was funny and so much like the BBQ's we have here in Texas. It is a macho thing, no doubt."

Neil also had some light to shed on the subject:

"The subject short story had me laughing out loud.  
Long Island (as you may or may not know) is the birthplace of suburbia in
the USA.  When all the troops returned from WWII, many stayed in coastal
places like New York City, rather than return to the farms and prairies of
the American heartland.  The result of this sudden population boom was that
NYC was breaking at the seams.  Thankfully, someone got the bright idea to
expand to Long Island (mostly potato farms up until then).  Overnight, these
huge communities, with thousands of homes, starting sprouting up like
Oh, so why am I telling you this?  Well, us (we? another lesson needed here)
Islanders, as we're called, feel that the Bar-B-Q (Americanized spelling)
actually started and became popularized in our neck of the woods.  I know
men have been cooking over fire since caves were in vogue, but I like to
think that my parents, uncles, etc. were the real suburban pioneers that
took this culinary necessity and perfected what we consider to be an art form:
The Long Island Summer Saturday Afternoon Bar-B-Q !!
However, I know that very strong exception to my claim would be taken by my
friends down under." 

And from Richard, 

"In England we have so few opportunities to cook and eat outdoors that barbeque politics do not seem to be an issue. When we do risk it here, I light the thing and my wife generally does the cooking (and I look after the drinks). Not all that different from indoors, then. We have an annual barbeque in our cul-de-sac and the cooking is done by a man - but then he's a professional chef! Incidentally, I'm convinced that the best way to barbeque food is to part-cook it in the oven, singe it over the flames until it looks burnt and then put it back in the oven to keep warm until you're ready to eat it!"

Chuckle ... what would the Tong Master have to say about that?!


This week's quiz:

Choose a word from the list which is the synonym for each of the words below: 

 delay, stubborn, false, agreeable, wandering, near,  permissive, destitution, poisonous, nonchalant

1. apathetic

2. indulgent

3. penury

4. noxious

5. procrastinate

6. obdurate

7. nomadic

8. imminent

9. spurious


Here are some more insights into the Australian way of life ...

The alpha male in any group is he who takes the barbecue tongs from the hands of the host and blithely begins turning the snags.

Whether it's the opening of Parliament, or the launch of a new art gallery, there is no Australian event that cannot be improved by a sausage sizzle.

If the guy next to you is swearing like a wharfie he's probably a media billionaire. Or on the other hand, he may be a wharfie.

There is no food that cannot be improved by the application of tomato sauce.

On the beach, all Australians hide their keys and wallets by placing them inside their sandshoes. No thief has ever worked this out.

Industrial design knows of no article more useful than the plastic milk crate.

It's not summer until the steering wheel is too hot to hold.

A thong is not a piece of scanty swimwear, as in America, but a fine example of Australian footwear. A group of sheilas wearing black rubber thongs may not be as exciting as you had hoped...

If you're anything like me, every week, you'll receive at least half a dozen dire warnings against a new virus, sent by well-meaning friends. Here's another for your collection and this one sounds ro-o-o-o-olly and tro-o-o-lly bad:


If you receive an email entitled "Badtimes," delete it immediately. Do not open it. Apparently this one is pretty nasty.

It will not only erase everything on your hard drive, but it will also delete anything on disks within 20 feet of your computer. It demagnetizes the stripes on ALL of your credit cards. It reprograms your ATM access code, screws up the tracking on your VCR and uses subspace field harmonics to scratch any CD's you attempt to play. It will program your phone auto dial to call only your mother-in-law's number. This virus will mix antifreeze into your fish tank. It will drink all your beer. (For God's sake, man, are you LISTENING?!?!) It will leave dirty socks on the coffee table when you are expecting company.
   It will replace your shampoo with Nair and your Nair with Rogaine, all the while dating your current boy/girlfriend behind your back and billing their hotel rendezvous to your Visa card. It will cause you to run with scissors and throw things in a way that is only fun until someone loses an eye.

It will rewrite your backup files, changing all your active verbs to passive tense and incorporating undetectable misspellings which grossly change the interpretations of key sentences.

If the "Badtimes" message is opened in a Windows95/98 environment, it will leave the toilet seat up and leave your hair dryer plugged in dangerously close to a full bathtub. It will not only remove the forbidden tags from your mattresses and pillows, it will also refill your skim milk with whole milk.


And if you don't send this to 5000 people in 20 seconds, you will fart next time you're making love.

Quick! Get busy! Send send send send send................


Thanks, Sara, for letting us know about this one ;)

Last week's quiz:

Fill in the table:

educate education EDUCATION
HONOUR honour honourable
SILENCE silence silent
please PLEASURE pleasant
economise economy ECONOMICAL
INJURE injury injurious
vacate VACATION vacant
suspect SUSPICION (SUSPECT) suspicious
provoke provocation PROVOCATIVE
GRIEVE grief grievous

I'd be interested to hear whether the word of the week is a real term or simply the figment of someone's fevered imagination.

Word of the week: DWILE FLONKING  (An English pub game.) 

When summer comes or charity fund-raising is involved, English pub games often veer from mere eccentricity towards total lunacy. These are the days of marrow dangling, passing the splod, Portuguese sardine racing, conger cuddling, rhubarb thrashing, and dwile flonking.

The game is officially played by two teams of twelve players, though there is great flexibility in numbers (the terminology and rules also vary from place to place). The fielding team gathers in a circle, called a girter, enclosing a member of the other team, the flonker. He holds a broom handle (usually called the driveller), on top of which is a beer-soaked rag, the dwile or dwyle.

At a signal, the girter dances around the flonker in a circle. He must flick (or flonk) the dwile with the driveller so it hits a girter team member. His score depends on which part of the body he hits - the usual scoring is three points for a hit on the head (a wanton), two for a hit on the body, (a marther), and just one for a leg strike (a ripple). If after two shots the flonker hasn't scored he is swadged, or potted, which means he has to drink a quantity of beer from a chamber pot within a given time. After all the members of one team have flonked, the other team is put in. The winner is the team with the most points after two innings, usually the one with more members still upright. (Weird Words)


Tautology of the week: Ask a question of an anonymous stranger and you may well receive back in response advance warning of bad trouble ahead in the future.

Here's an all-purpose Latin phrase for the week - use it wisely:

Mellilla, quid sentis? (Honey, what do you think?)

And here are some  ... interesting (?)... Latin phrases that Chris sent:

Veni, Vidi, Pesci. (I came, I saw, I moidered da bum.)

Veni, Vidi, Velcro. (I came; I saw; I stuck around.)

Sic semper tyrannus. (Your dinosaur is ill.)

These are a hoot :)

The last one reminds me of a fabulously witty headline I read about in a Journalists' How to book many moons ago.

It was during the time that Gloria Swanson was popular - on both sides of The Pond. Apparently she'd taken ill while on a tour and her return home had been delayed. All her fans were immensely relieved to read the headline:

Sick Gloria in transit Monday.

Which everyone (back then) knew was a terrifically clever play on the Latin phrase: sic transit gloria mundi (Thus passes the glory of the world).

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