Category Archives: language

After us, the flood

Medieval manuscript showing Noah’s ArcThe users of the internet seem to fall into two categories: the literate and the illiterate. I had hoped that the fact that most communication is by the written word would encourage literacy but it doesn’t seem to. Hopefully the increase in visible illiteracy is because the demographic is expanding to include people who can neither spell nor touch type, and not because we are in fact dumbing down.

I’ve been freecycling a lot of stuff recently, and I have to remind myself that just because someone replies to me thusly …

sorry its late but can pick up tomorrow or sunday evening many thanks shirley [phone number] if you ring me i will ring back to arrange pick up and address

… is no reason not to let them have my stuff.

I’ve been playing Travian for a couple of weeks, and browsing the forums. Travian starts off looking like a rural version of Sim City and ends up being an mmorpg war game. I’m not particularly interested in war games and will probably wander back here whimpering when my villages are destroyed by hormone-enraged 13 year olds who cannot spell.

I can’t work out whether the posters here intend to be as rude and arrogant as they seem:

I’m really confused!
I’m new to Travian so I need answers about this server restart business. I’m in server 4 so I don’t know if it affects me but when they restart the servers is everyone going to lose their cities and have to start all over again? Please help me!

wow, i’m in an answer stupid questions mood tonight….If server 5 restarts, it has nothing to do with server 4. server 4 just restarted like 3 or 4 months ago… if i’m not mistaken, the last game on server 5 probably already ended if its restarting at the end of the month

Today is stupid question night, but I guess we really shouldnt’ say anything about this guy because he is new… And it’s not in the manual or anything………

what about server 3?

wait.. nvm.. i see now.. server 3 won’t be affected ither..

Wow don’t get mad at me when you didn’t even answer my question… “when they restart the servers is everyone going to lose their cities and have to start all over again?”

I answered your question You asked:
I’m in server 4 so I don’t know if it affects me but when they restart the servers is everyone going to lose their cities and have to start all over again? Please help me!Ok. The server restart ONLY AFFECTS the restarted server. It doesn’t affect the other servers the tiniest bit! If the server is restarted, you lose everything on that server. But if your village is not on that server, then you don’t lose anything!

Alright thanks for your time.

wow, hot to not become mad when after a stupid question (that was answered few days ago and u can find it on the forum) you don’t mind even a little to read SirensMoon’s first post:Quote:
Today is stupid question night, but I guess we really shouldnt’ say anything about this guy because he is new… And it’s not in the manual or anything………Nothing will affect you. |
that’s an answer

What A Noob Question

There are pages and pages of that sort of exchange. I cannot tell if the posters are:

  1. badly served by their own illiteracy
  2. writing abruptly because they are writing in a foreign language, (Travian was developed in Germany and is “set” in the Gallic / Teutonic boarder at the “time” of the Roman empire), or
  3. 13 and hormones and peer-pressure are undermining their ability to socialise or think

It worries me that illiteracy is a fashion and that the posters could in fact type perfectly sensibly if they chose to.

Then it worries me that this is the highest level of their written communication skills, and they are going to be unleashed into an economy where the blue-collar jobs are all done in China.

I don’t which worries me more. Maybe it’s just a noob question.

Word Clouds

Hey – how cool is this? These are the words I use here. If you like, it’s a snapshot of my mind. I got it from a site that makes t-shirts. I skipped on the t-shirt, but I really like my word cloud. I’d love it on a mug.

Aphra’s Word Cloud

Someone has written a plugin for using with WordPress, but I think it only works if you use WordPress as a stand-alone content editor instead of doing your blogging here on site.

I thought this was cool so I have suggested it in the features forums. I have started a conversation suggesting the Word Cloud plugin and added the suggestion to a separate conversation about tag clouds. Be wary of spamming though, but the two conversations are about different features, though they look very similar. Apparently the thing to so is use the Feedback button at the top right of your Dashboard to put the suggestion to the WordPress Peeps.

What he said:

I’m just going to give you a link today, with the comment “what he said“. From the digs at the current government, to the all round fantabulousness of the word, from the comments about Peter Cook, to the value of it in the lexicon, I agree with what this man says and wish I had said it myself.

(PS – Includes strong language – soz).

(PPS – I am out and about for a few days. No more blogging till next week at the earliest).

Can anyone explain to me ….

… the logic behind the apostrophes in the following piece of text?

You cannot return newspapers and magazines, video’s, dvds, cd’s, tapes or computer games if the security seal has been broken unless such items are faulty.

It comes from Asda On-line’s terms and conditions. (Yes I know Asda are evil but it’s a choice between them and Tesco who are equally evil. Asda have their head office in the north of England, so better the devil that’s local).

A couple of other things amused me about them:

We know it’s a lot of legal stuff, but its been written by top lawyers at huge expense to us, to protect You,

Yeah. Right. And who pays your wages? That’s right. Us, the (capitalised) Customer.

It is easy to tell the bits written by marketing from the bits written by lawyers:

You may also write to us at or fax us on, but this is the slowest and most expensive way for us to deal with Your changes so please try and help us keep costs down and prices low by visiting Our Site or using our order helpline.

Written by Marketing presumably, though it is unforgivably careless to leave out the address and fax number.


A legally binding contract with You will only arise once We have completed delivering the products to You. At this time You become the owner of the products.. This means that You will have no legal liability in connection with Your order until delivery is completed.

I like to think that anyone writing consumer-friendly text would have avoided the phrases “a legally binding contract … will only arise” and “completed delivering”. In fact, why not just cut to the chase and skip everything until the last sentence? And note the double full stop.

All in all it reads like an un-proof-read and poorly translated parody of one of Wagner’s operas, with random acts of capitalisation which would only be acceptable if you were a God translated from the German. And lost, at that.

They have a minimum order value of 25 quid and since the point is to save money by cutting down the chances to impulse buy, I think I’ll go for those soft southern jessies at Tesco after all. Besides which, I’d hate to get into a legal dispute with Asda, surreally entertaining though such a thing would be.

And another thing…

It’s “an unique thing” ok? The indefinite article before a vowel sound or a soft aspirate becomes “an“. With an n. An hypothesis. An honourable mention. An indefinite article in fact. An apple and an apron. An historical and linguistic anomaly.

I don’t care if you say something is “almost unique”; that’s a valid use of a qualifier. I don’t care if you say it is “nearly unique” though I’d wince with other people’s referred pain at “very nearly unique”. But if you say something is “a unique thing” I will, without a doubt, loose it. Entirely.

It won’t be pleasant.


Thank you.

The search for my own true swear-word

Been there, done that, used stronger expletives! (I assume you know just how obscene the word “carob” is to a true chocoholic).
Archie, to Reed, on losing a post without saving it.

So what makes a good swear-word? Personally I think it’s the sound of the thing. If it was obscenity alone, one could say “what a complete blairing fool that man is”. Well, when I put it like that, maybe “blair” does work.

My favourite piece of invective came from a friend who has a first in Classics, and who was applying for a post-grad degree at Cambridge. That is Cambridge as in Cambridge, not Cambridge as in The Fenland University or whatever the former poly is called these days. So, hardly uneducated or illiterate, this chap. As it turned out, he did not take very kindly to the academics there. The phrase he used was “fucking cunting twats”. As invective goes, I find that hard to beat, and I think it is the sequence of consonants that makes it so effective, the two K sounds, then the two very hard Ts. The rhythm helps of course.

So I think a good swear word needs good constonants. One could really spit out the tories’ names: “Thatch the snatch” is too obvious to mention, and how satisfying to call someone “total tebbitty bastard” or describe someone else as “a heseltining wanker”. And as for the bottomleys. ‘Nuff said.

But this means that “Bush” and “Blair”, fucking cunting twats and complete tebbitty bastards though they undoubtedly are, don’t actually make the grade as obscenities.

Yet another reason to hate them.

Such a shame.

Sisterhood is for bitches

I tumbled across a this on FtM Doctor’s blog today, and have been choking on my reaction ever since.

The story is about a feminist music festival in Michigan which is explicitly for “womyn-born womyn” and explicitly excludes trans women. Presumably they also explicitly excludes trans men. In fact, it is not actually a story, it is a press release, explaining the organisers’ point of view.

The language is interesting, veering between the hate-filled and the overly emotive. At one point the organiser of the “womyn-born womyn” sends the following email to the leader of “camp trans”.

I deeply desire healing in our communities, and I can see and feel that you want that too. I would love for you and the other organizers of Camp Trans to find the place in your hearts and politics to support and honor space for womyn who have had the experience of being born and living their life as womyn. I ask that you respect that womon born womon is a valid and honorable gender identity. I also ask that you respect that womyn born womyn deeply need our space — as do all communities who create space to gather, whether that be womyn of color, trans womyn or trans men . . . I wish you well, I want healing, and I believe this is possible between our communities, but not at the expense of deeply needed space for womyn born womyn.

The self-righteous emotional manipulation of this is nauseating, with its talk of “deeply desire[ing] healing”, “respect” and “deeply needed space”s.

We strongly assert there is nothing transphobic with choosing to spend one week with womyn who were born as, and have lived their lives as, womyn. It is a powerful, uncommon experience that womyn enjoy during this one week of living in the company of other womyn-born womyn. There are many opportunities in the world to share space with the entire queer community, and other spaces that welcome all who define themselves as female.

Is it unkind of me to consider the spaces and places that I have spent with “womyn-born womyn” this past week, which include a women-only gym and the WI? It is not hard to find women-only groups, if that’s what you need for a while. I’ve been on women-only holidays and women-only retreats. I was educated in part at an all girls’ school.

Of course the gym, and the WI aren’t full of radical feminists or …

womyn who could be considered gender outlaws, either because of their sexual orientation (lesbian, bisexual, polyamorous, etc.) or their gender presentation (butch, bearded, androgynous, femme – and everything in between). … gender variant womyn …. ” or women who ” … consider themselves differently gendered

… so far as I know.

I find myself wondering why the organisers exclude trans women if the spread of women at the festival is so broad, (yes, I know, the “deeply-needed space” thing) and also whether or not there are any straight married mothers there, or whether monogamous heterosexuals are not welcome either.

Rather than rant on and on about this, I will conclude with three final comments.

Firstly, it would be acceptable for the “womyn” of Michigan to create an activity exclusivly for “womyn-born women” if, on other occasions, they created events which were exclusively for other sub-sets of women, for example women who have been abused, or widowed, or who are lesbians, or indeed trans. But to exclude trans women and only trans women smacks of the “all men are rapists” school of separatist radical feminism which de-personalises half of the human race in a way which is as unjust and unacceptable as the de-personalising of women by men which went on for centuries before.

Secondly, I wonder if this is actually personal. If it isn’t about all trans women, but about one particular trans woman, if the organisers lacked the balls to exclude her and if they therefore decided to exclude them all. I find this theory rather compelling, given how petty, emotional and factional groups of women can become. See quotes above.

Finally, I put the press release through Gender Genie, and it scored 30% female and 70% male. Which made me snigger. Bitch that I am.