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Words & Language

The best question with which to ponder what a verb - if that's what the word "is" is - is, is "Is 'Is 'is' really an action?' a valid question?".

POLYSTROPHES

Don't you think we should use more contractions? And why not more than one at a time, while we're at it? I call a word with more than one apostrophe a polystrophe, pronounced ['pä-lE-"strOf]. I'm lazy, so the more letters I can exclude, the better! Some of these polystrophes are actually used in common speech, so why not write them, too? Others you'dn't've heard before, but it's about time.

EXAMPLES

  • wouldn't've
  • couldn't've
  • shouldn't've
  • won't've
  • she'sn't
  • I'mn't
  • he'sn't
  • you'ren't
  • it'sn't
  • you'ven't
  • I'ven't
  • we'ven't
  • he'll've
  • I'll've
  • you'll've
  • it'll've
  • she'll've
  • I'dn't (I had not)
  • he'dn't
  • she'dn't
  • you'dn't
  • I'dn't've (I would not have)
  • he'dn't've
  • she'dn't've
  • you'dn't've

I'M RIGHT, AMN'T I?

Why isn't there a word amn't? If you think that maybe it's just too hard to say, compare it to isn't. They aren't too different. This non-use is so bad that we even substitute aren't where we know we should say amn't (see the header of this section)!

This apparent anomaly is explained very well in an article on World Wide Words. It turns out that amn't was standard historically, and is still used colloquially in Ireland and Scotland. It was gradually reduced to an't, which gave rise to ain't (which also used to be considered standard).

TIMEDROPS

Timedrops on a butter plate
Filling fast our unseen fate
Later to coagulate
Remaining in an unchanged state
Slivers sliced from solid stick
Melting moments tock by tick
Liquid life, an instant thick
Future fluid, or fictive trick?

PROPRIETARY EPONYMS

Here is a list of brand names that are so much associated with their corresponding products that we often refer to that product by the brand name instead. For example, have you ever heard anyone order a "rum and Pepsi", or even a "rum and soft drink"? And what would you call Velcro, if not by its brand name? If you can think of any more, please email us!

The list is in approximate order of prevalence of use compared to the actual term for the product. The brands are listed in lowercase to emphasize that they are used generically.
  • band-aid
  • jello
  • q-tips
  • velcro
  • dumpster
  • frisbee
  • yo-yo
  • bubble-wrap
  • styrofoam
  • plexiglas
  • popsicle
  • sterno
  • vise grip
  • vaseline
  • chap stick
  • pop-tarts
  • scotch tape
  • tupperware
  • rolodex
  • formica
  • sheetrock
  • speedo
  • polaroid
  • magic marker
  • roller blades
  • windex
  • S.O.S pad/brillo pad
  • saran wrap
  • ziploc bags
  • tiffany lamps
  • kleenex
  • jacuzzi
  • white-out
  • coleman stove
  • dixie cups
  • clorox
  • raisinets
  • realtor
  • kool-aid
  • xerox
  • post-it notes
  • dockers
  • coke
  • fedex
  • hoover (UK)