Here are a couple language-related items I ran across this morning. On The New York Times site, blogger Stanley Fish discusses phrases that produce "irritation, distress and, in some cases, the desire to kill. You hear or read one of these and your heart sinks." His favorite expression is "To Be Continued," as in you've invested time and emotion into a TV program, only to be told you have to wait a week or more to find out how the program ends.
He then lists plenty of other phrases that we've all heard and dreaded, including "Sold Out" ("when you've been waiting in line at a movie theater for 30 minutes"); "Register Closed" ("when you've been waiting not-so-patiently behind a fellow customer with 25 items"); and, my favorite, "This may hurt a little" (when "you know that pain and discomfort on a massive scale are just around the corner").
What are the phrases that irk you the most? Fish asked readers to chime in with their own favorites, and more than 900 people did just that. Fun reading!
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In the Toronto Star, I found this interesting opening:
"If your Google search history could talk, would it recite a poem?
The people behind a controversial movement known as 'flarf' believe phrases found on the Internet and strung together into poetry provide a critical social commentary. Others think it's worthless drivel."
Flarfists (I'm not making that up!) Kate Dawson and Ori Barbut started creating poetry from their friends' Internet search histories--or at least from those friends who were willing to make their histories public. Dawson and Barbut soon had enough poems to self-publish a book, SearchBar History Vol. 1.
Other flarfists started a public listserv, Flarf Collective, so they could write poems for each other. Star reporter Nicole Baute writes, "Google sculpting emerged as a popular technique—plugging a term, like 'deer head,' for example, into Google and then making poetry from the bits of text that come up on the search page."
Deer Head Nation, by Southern Oregon University professor K. Silem Mohammad, happens to be the title of the first full-length book of flarf. Baute continues:
"In mining the Internet for poetry fodder Mohammad says he found 'a better reflection of language as it's actually used, in all these various forms, everything from hate speech to chat room conversations to bits of maybe old novels, the entire spectrum.' "
Finally, just a reminder that our latest special issue, The Writer's Guide to Getting Published, is now available at bookstores in the U.S. and Canada.
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