About

I'm Mike Pope. I live in the Seattle area. I've been a technical writer and editor for over 30 years. I'm interested in software, language, music, movies, books, motorcycles, travel, and ... well, lots of stuff.

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I look at it this way: I am a native speaker of English. I grew up in Northern New England. I went to Harvard. I know a bunch of languages. I have a Ph.D. Therefore my usage is standard. Your mileage may vary.

Bill Poser, writing about what constitutes "standard English."



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Blog Statistics

Dates
First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 9/23/2017

Totals
Posts - 2453
Comments - 2558
Hits - 1,984,502

Averages
Entries/day - 0.47
Comments/entry - 1.04
Hits/day - 381

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 8:30 AM Pacific


  10:18 AM

It's Friday, therefore words!

For the new-to-me word this week, a term (some related terms) I learned only yesterday from Lynne Murphy, whose blog Separated by a Common Language keeps an eye on trans-Atlantic English. The first term is lig, which refers to events that feature free food and entertainment. (Per one definition I found, "esp in the entertainment industry and the media," ha.) Whence this term? "Origin uncertain." (My money is on Scandinavian languages, but that's totally a guess.)

To lig is the verb for attending such functions precisely in order to get that free stuff. And ligger, naturally, is a term for someone who ligs. As far as I can tell, these are all British terms; I've certainly never heard them in the US, and COCA, which tracks American English, has zero relevant hits.

Anyway, this all amused me because I'm in the software industry, which also has a streak of the extravagant, what with huge launch parties and famously gourmet cafeterias at Google. Here's a scene from the movie Up in the Air where Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) is ligging a software party in the hotel where they're staying.


On to etymology. Why are corny jokes corny? Corn is an ancient word meaning "seed" (see also: kernel). In the sense of a corny joke (or corny anything), corny is glossed as "worn out and tiresome or overly sentimental." (Corny jokes are not to be confused with dad jokes, thank you.) The relationship of the seed to the sentimental is apparently an indirect reference to the notion that people involved with the seed—country folk, "corn-fed" people—are more prone to enjoying jokes and other cultural paraphernalia of the corny variety. It's an American term, early to mid 20th century. Next time you hear a corny joke, blame the bumpkins I guess.

Like this? Read all the Friday words.

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