Random Games with Words: What Do You Expect from a Linguistics Major?

I've been saving up various blog bits, all of them some kind of word play. The original idea was to expand each category into its own post. Then I thought, "Hey! Why bother? Maybe this is as good as it gets."

What Kind of Bird Was that Again?

As an illustration of just how word-geeky I am, witness this: The night I met the man who would become my first husband, I charmed him with this little zinger: "A blackbird is a black bird, but not all black birds are blackbirds."

He had me repeat it, and I lectured about the role of emphasis in changing the meanings of words and phrases. The fact this did actually charm him is possibly an illustration of how geeky he is, too....

The Whole Kit & Caboodle

How much IS that, anyway? Transcript of a discussion with Eldest Daughter:

“How much is a caboodle?” she asks. She is on the phone with a friend and consulting me over her shoulder. I ponder briefly.

“Is the kit included?” I ask. “The whole kit and caboodle would be more than just the caboodle.”

“Just the caboodle,” she answers.

“Ten or fewer, then, I think.”

She nods and repeats my answer into the phone, then turns to me again. “I thought it was 14, but maybe that’s with the kit. What about with the kit included? The kit could be around 4, so the whole kit and caboodle would be 14.”

I respond, “Sounds about right to me. A kit would be pretty small. Four is good.”

There. That's settled.

Words We Should Get to Use More Often

Wouldn’t life be great if you had more occasions to use some of these?

  • Exuberant
  • Joyful
  • Melodious
  • Sunshine

Fun with Phrases: Think About These

We all know oxymorons such as jumbo shrimp, pretty ugly, clearly misunderstood.

For years I’ve kept a list of terms that aren’t quite oxymorons. I don’t know what to call these—accidental funnies? I’d welcome additions to the list from inventive minds.

  • Cement truck: Gets TERRIBLE mileage.
  • Wood stove: The ultimate in planned obsolescence.
  • School library: Well, which is it?

Misheard Song Lyrics

This particular item was inspired by a post on For a Different Kind of Girl, a blog that reliably makes me snort beverages through my nose.

In the category of misheard lyrics, for the longest time I thought Journey (want to buy Greatest Hits & sing along?), for some incredibly odd reason I couldn't fathom, was singing, "You come to me with broken arms."

That image of two arms in plaster casts reaching out lovingly just didn't make much sense, but oh well, who's supposed to understand rock song lyrics anyway?

And In Closing....

The coolest gift I ever received from a boss was the Oxford Unabridged Dictionary--the version that's all in one huge book you could use to break someone's toe.

Granted, it was given to me by a creepy and possibly psychotic boss who bragged about smuggling a pistol through airport security (this was in the early 80s), and who hated lawyers with a passion that made him send strange letters with derogatory terms about them ("shyster!") written all over the envelopes, making the address all but indecipherable and the letter therefore undeliverable. It was still a great gift.

My fondness for words and dictionaries would be because--as my college boyfriend was fond of saying about my chosen major--I was a cunning linguist.