Category Archives: Words Mean Things, Dammit

This Is the Hill I Die On (Or Mast, Or Whatever)

Thanks to the global pandemic sea shanties are suddenly popular, which fine, great – it’s about time something good came out of all this death and disease. But the rise of sea shanties has meant a corresponding rise in people talking about sea shanties, which has highlighted one of the greatest horrors of the modern age:

People saying “aaargh” when they want to sound like a pirate or old-timey sailor, instead of “aaarrr”.

“Aaarrr” is clearly correct, though people of good conscience can disagree about the precise numbers of “a”s and “r”s. I will also accept “yaaaar”, as Horatio McCallister uses to start every sentence.

High Quality Simpsons sea captain Blank Meme Template
Oh, you didn’t know that “Horatio McCallister” was his real name? Well, obviously I’m more of an expert on this stuff than you, then

But “arrgh” is clearly an expression of distress, much like “augh”

PEANUTS on Twitter: "Football starts today, Charlie Brown...  http://t.co/5KMFELlxLt"
Not the least bit piratical

Can I pirate say “argh”? Sure, I guess, if the pirate in question had stubbed his toe or his parrot had pecked him in the ear or something, but so can a non-pirate, and more to the point this putative pirate wouldn’t start every sentence with “argh” like he would with “arrr”. And more importantly, we can all agree that only sea-faring types would ever say “arrr”. So let’s all agree to socially condemn people who do it wrong.

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Filed under Grammar Gripery, Words Mean Things, Dammit

I Just Can’t Stand This

In case you aren’t familiar with it for some reason, the classic show Parking Wars is a reality show that airs on A&E. The last new episode was filmed back in 2012, but it shows in reruns to this day, because who doesn’t enjoy watching people yell angrily about parking tickets?

As great as the show is, though, one thing about it has always bothered me. In approximately half the episodes, someone will get a ticket for parking in a no standing zone and argue to the beleaguered parking enforcement officer that they “were parking, not standing”. Sometimes, they will buttress their argument by pointing out that they are not from Philadelphia/Detroit/Staten Island/whatever, and that’s why they don’t know about this peculiar regional parking rule.

Throughout all the arguments that inevitably follow, though, the representative of parking authority, no matter who they are or what city that work for, never seems to think of explain what the difference between parking and standing (when it comes to automotive rules), actually is.

Now, the readers of this blog are all the sort of people who would thoroughly learn all traffic rules and regulations before getting behind the wheel of a car. But for the benefit of those readers who don’t drive, the difference is this: Parking is stopping a vehicle for any purpose other than loading and unloading people or stuff, while standing is stopping temporarily to pick up or drop off passengers (as in, what you might do at a taxi stand).

It’s not that difficult to understand – basically you just need to lay out the “No Stopping” > “No Standing” > “No Parking” hierarchy – but for some reason no one bothers with the definition. They just go in circles, with one person saying “you can’t park in a no standing zone” and the other saying “If I wasn’t allowed to park here, the singn would say ‘No Parking'”. It makes (sort of) good television, but it seems odd.

Unless it is because the parking enforcement person knows about the loophole in some municipalities that make parking and standing mutually exclusive. Which, it could be argued, allows you to park in a No Standing zone, so long as no one but the driver leaves…

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Black and Blue

I don’t know why this is such a difficult thing for people to understand, but Blackbeard was the famous pirate.  Bluebeard was just a serial murderer of wives.  I’m not sure why either murderous criminal would be considered a good corporate symbol.  But if, for instance, a company that sells hair care products wanted to use Bluebeard as a mascot, going for some kind of jolly roger motif is way off base.  Bluebeard’s whole thing was keys, so might I suggest his use by a lock manufacturer?

This guy wouldn’t last a day at sea

At least Edward Teach had a certain amount of flair (come to think of it, a beard products company that had Blackbeard as their mascot could try to bring back his striking fashion statement of wearing a bunch of lighted slow-burning matches in his beard – it’s hard to find beard matches these days).

Pirate Edward Teach Corsair - Free vector graphic on Pixabay

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