Monday, September 10, 2007


Little things are starting to pile up that don't or no longer warrant full posts …
  • Petraeus = Betray us is suddenly a very famous aptronym. It's been popping up of late, but now has exploded: see here, or catch how MoveOn was condemned in Congress today for using it.
  • Over at Greenbelt, the Ridger has picked up something here from the news feed (on the right) that I just couldn't figure out what to do with: Some Army billboards in the Chicago area aiming to recruit Arabic speakers. A guy is offended because he can't read them. Part of what gave me pause was the one line in English: "If you can read this, call Mohamed." The 'if you can read this' thing is kind of cute (and gets a ton of g-hits, like "If you can read this ... consider yourself in the minority"), but even though it's a very common given name, in this context 'call Mohamed' sounds like some odd euphemism somehow. Thanks, Ridger, I owe you.
  • And Mark Liberman just beat me to a piece in a Straight Dope column from last week's Onion, about the shrinking-American-vocabulary hoax.
  • Omniglot — the blog is something I hadn't read until just recently and he picks up on the degrammaticalization here, with some interesting comments. Separated by a Common Language also had a nice post on the topic, with some pieces of the puzzle that were new to me.


The Ridger, FCD said...

No problem, Mr. Verb!

Anonymous said...

On Petraeus/Betray us, it's interesting to note that the unstressed initial syllables, pe- and be-, end up sounding pretty much indistinguishable. The loss of aspiration creates the perceptual merger presumably. If these were distinguished by voice, wouldn't they still sound distinct?

Anonymous said...


Thought this news might be of some interest to your readers:

NEW TV ad coming out on Monday Sept 17th...basically calling President Bush a traitor.

Catch it here: TV Ad

For General David Betray Us fans or not:
General David Betray Us

Have a great weekend!

Ollock said...

It depends on your dialect just a little more, I think. For example, I tend not to reduce the /i/ in "Betray" /bitrej/, or if I do I reduce it to [I], while I generally pronounce Petraeus with either [@] or [E] ( that's schwa or mid front lax vowel for those unfamiliar with SAMPA). Also, I think the stress, or maybe lenght of the /ej/ is different, though I'm not exactly sure.