Hardly a Word to Say…

seemlihead n. seemliness; the state of being agreeably fashioned or proportioned, or of conforming to accepted standards of good taste.

Five Facts About Phone Books

Your kids and mine are going to be too wireless and green even to know what a phone book is, so Palisadespete’s  Ten Facts About the Telephone Book doesn’t just tickle your trivia gland–it’s important historical preservation work!

Here are a few of them…

1.  The first phone book was published in 1878, the same year as Anna Karenina.

5.  The Guinness world record for the most telephone books ripped in half from the spine in two minutes is 33, set by Cosimo Ferrucci in 2010. Skip ahead to the 10-minute mark to watch him do it here:

7.  The City of Raleigh states that “even though the paper in telephone books has been recycled many times already and it no longer can be made into a paper product, they will be separated out at our contractor’s sorting facility to be recycled into other products such as animal bedding or insulation.”

9.  Especially brilliant actors are said to be able to give inspired readings even of the phone book. Here, Robin Williams does John Houseman doing so. (Huzzah, SCTV!):

10.  Phone books are associated with political filibusters, primarily due to Strom Thurmond using one in his historic longest Senate filibuster (24 hours, 18 minutes).  He was attempting to stop passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, BTW.

(Facts found at palisadespete, where you get 10 facts about something every day.)

Suddenly We Can’t Call it Simply a THING Anymore

After posting that rhyme about retronyms earlier this week, I thought: These things must be everywhere!

After all, a retronym is the new word for an old thing, the new word that becomes necessary when a thing becomes an old thing because along has come a new thing. And suddenly we can’t call it simply a thing anymore. (“It’s coined when innovation’s done / And then refers to Version One.”)  And technology only moves forward, society’s always changing, and products are always getting new and improved. So the opportunity and necessity for retronyms is vast.

More words are retronyms than I’d ever paid attention to before. Check out this tiny sampling–once upon a time, none of these was even necessary:

bar soap  sit-down restaurant acoustic guitar whole milk contiguous United States World War 1 handwriting visible light plain M & Ms Survivor: Borneo silent film hard copy black licorice live music cloth diaper English muffins conventional warfare manual transmission corn on the cob

(From the Wikipedia entry, List of Retronyms.)

“Mary had a little lamb, small fries and splash of Coke.”

Mary had a little lamb, small fries and splash of coke.
And every day of her short life she ate and lost the hope-
of living life devoid of all the joys of heart disease.
Beef or lamb, it doesn’t matter. C’mon, McDonalds, please.


Yuck. That billboard is in desperate need of a comma. ~”Ann”

Or two. Oxford comma FTW. 😉 ~”turtlegirl784″

(Three comments left at 22 Words.)

How *Every* Librarian Feels When…

…someone says 50 Shades of Gray is just the best book.

(Found at Librarians Classified.)

My University is 600 Years Old–How Old’s Yours?

On this day in 1413 Pope Benedict XIII issued the Papal Bull confirming the privileges of the University of St Andrews, and Scotland’s first university was born.

Sure, the math there comes to 599, but the university had been organized a couple of years before the document, just a little less officially. So happy birthday, Uni.

(Found via Tim McNeely, who edits and writes for Post Defiance. Photo from St. Andrews 600th Anniversary Facebook page.)

The Retronym

The Retronym, by Scott Emmons

The retronym’s a useful word,
A favorite of the language nerd.
It’s coined when innovation’s done
And then refers to Version One.
To wit, our mail was simply mail
Till e-mail forced the added “snail.”
I had to wait till I was grown
To learn a phrase like “land-line phone.”
And no new tricks for this old dog!
The watch I wear is “analog.”
There’s “Classic Coke” and “in-ground pool.”
The retronym conveys “old school.”
But now my lesson’s done.  I guess
I’ll watch some “Star Trek: TOS.”

(Found at The Daily Rhyme.)