Yes, I’m peeving

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 3.29.42 PM“Login” is a noun. Step 2 here should read “On the event date and time, log in and join…”

I see “workout” regularly misused in the same way (at my gym, for example).

And yes, it causes me that peever’s wince, brings out my inner 8th-grade-English teacher (which, as a side note, is not so much of a stretch, in that I now do, in fact, teach 8th-grade English.)

As helpfully explains:

Many who are neither professionals in the computer field nor amateur tech enthusiasts condemn the use of the solid form login as a verb, and with reason. It doesn’t behave like a normal verb. You cannot say you have loginned, and you are never in the process of loginning. Moreover, you cannot even ask someone to login you; you must ask that person to log you in. Clearly, it is the two-word phrase log in that functions fully as an English verb and not the solid form. Normally, we would expect log in, the verb phrase and login, the noun to behave in the same way as similar pairs: blow out/blowout, crack down/crackdown, hang up/hangup, splash down/splashdown, turn off/turnoff, where the two-word phrase is a verb and the one-word form a noun.

‘And yet,’ concedes, “this gluing together of terms like login, logon, backup, and setup as verbs is common, especially in writing about computers.”

This is the great conundrum (for me, at least) of descriptivism; how long do you hold the line and insist that “login” is a noun and “log in” is a verb phrase, before you give up (not giveup) and admit defeat?

Contrastive focus reduplication

Q: “Did you have dinner tonight?”

A: “Yeah, but not, like, dinner dinner.”

Google “contrastive focus reduplication” and you’ll come across a lot of references to “The Salad-Salad Paper.”

As in this piece exploring the concept on

Also known as “lexical cloning.” (I think I like that term even better for sheer “eh what?”)

For the truly curious, a laundry list of examples from all manner of sources, from Steinbeck to The Simpsons,

And remember this ad?

To get technical, dialects are varieties of a language that have their own set of speakers with their own vocabulary, grammatical rules, and accent, and they can be regional, socioeconomic, ethnic,  tonal, and even a combination thereof. American English has eight major dialects–or 24, or hundreds, depending on who you ask and what they define as a “dialect.” Most of us don’t just speak a dialect, but switch between several depending on where, why, and how we are. And this is frustrating for the people who think that language shouldn’t be bound by culture, era, or region: that one kind of English (usually theirs) is good enough for every single English speaker in the world, all the time.

Great post from Kory Stamper at Harmless Drudgery, “In defense of talking funny”

The NYT on the OED‘s new Chief Editor

For all the tech talk, certain analog ways linger at the dictionary, notably in the Quotes Room, a repository of word citations on little slips of paper, many mailed in decades ago by volunteers around the world, the most prolific of whom are identified by their distinctive handwriting and referred to fondly by editors: “That’s a Laski,” or “This one’s from Collier in Australia.”


“We can hear everything that’s going on in the world of English for the last 500 years, and it’s deafening,” said the associate editor Peter Gilliver, who once spent nine months revising definitions for the word “run,” currently the longest single entry in the O.E.D.


The objective is to find the earliest and most illustrative uses of a word, not to grant benediction to anything as “proper English.” Each time commentators rebuke the O.E.D. for admitting teenage slang or marketing jargon, they misunderstand the dictionary, which aims not to define how language should be used, only how it is.

I think that from now on I’ll just hand this piece out at the start of my editing classes:

I must also caution you from the outset that this course is appallingly, unrelievedly dull. A student from a previous term complained in the course evaluation that “he just did the same thing over and over day after day.” Exactly. So will you. Editing is done word by word, phrase by phrase, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, and we will go over texts in class, word by word, phrase by phrase, sentence by sentence, and paragraph by paragraph. No one will hear you scream.

I’m going to turn my back for a minute so that anyone who wants to bolt can escape.

John E. McIntyre in The Baltimore Sun


Read more: