‘Turning Up Like a Bad Penny’

During a meeting at work this morning, I was trying to describe a situation wherein a bad task that I had shaken off after years was returning to my job duties. In describing this, I was searching for an old saying I remembered from my youth about a “bad penny,” but it escaped me.

So, now at home, I researched the saying:

Basically, “Turning up like a bad penny” refers to someone — or in my case something — unwelcome returning to one’s life after a long absence. If a person, it could be someone who harmed you or took advantage of you in the past, or even a former lover in a relationship gone much too sour; if a thing, it could be old debts, old unpleasant situations, or in my case more specifically, old hated job duties.

Here is the best description I found:

…when the term ‘bad penny’ first appeared in the 18th century, pennies were serious money. This made them ripe targets for counterfeiters, and to reach into your pocket or purse and discover that you had ended up with such a counterfeit coin, a ‘bad’ penny, was a depressing and annoying experience…. Thus ‘bad penny’ became an idiom meaning ‘an unwanted thing that keeps showing up’.

Amen.

As Seen on ‘Silicon Valley’:
Less v. Fewer

When I watch television, especially the live sort where so-called educated people mangle the language daily, I find myself correcting people as they speak.

silicon-valley-tv-show-titleFor instance, if someone says, “If I was you,” I correct it in my mind to “If I were you,” using the proper plural (conditional) form of the verb.

It was interesting to see such correcting done on a TV series, the tongue-in-cheek (so to speak) “Silicon Valley,” which aired Sunday (April 29).

When Dinesh said something like, “My code had less errors than yours,” Gilfoyle corrected him, saying, “Fewer.” (Later, of course, in a reverse, Gilfoyle would use “less” incorrectly too.)

Look at up: Fewer refers to quantity, or number; less to weight or volume.

Now, if I was Dinesh…

 

Commas Do Matter, at Least in Court

The Oxford Comma is the last comma before the final item in a list, for instance: dogs, cats, birds, and fish. The comma before “and fish” is the Oxford Comma.

Now in modern American English, use of the Oxford Comma has been denigrated, meaning that it’s optional in most cases. I personally tend to eliminate it unless doing so would render the sentence harder to understand.

A dairy in Maine will now have to pay $5 million in back overtime wages because of a missing Oxford Comma in a state law, which stipulates that workers are exempt from overtime when in the process of “…marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of” products.

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Peoplekind, Unite — You Have Nothing to Lose Except Your Gender

Canada, which this year purged its national anthem to make it gender-less, is now leading the charge toward political correctness.

You may have seen the video in which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau corrects a young woman who uses the word “mankind” and advises her to use “peoplekind” instead “’cause it’s more inclusive.”

The woman — and the audience — agreed with smiles and cheers.

When his own nation turned on him for the comment, a week later Trudeau said it was all “a dumb joke.”

“Dumb” I agree with, and “joke” seems to apply to the office of the current prime minister of Canada.

‘Once in a Blue Moon’

This Jan. 31, you’ll be able to experience something that hasn’t happened in 150 years — a Super Blue Blood Moon.

blood-moon“Which is?” you ask.

A Supermoon occurs when the orb is closest to the earth. A Blue Moon transpires when a Supermoon occurs a second time in the same month.

As for Blood, that indicates the Blue Moon is being accompanied by a total lunar eclipse.

The last such occurrence was in 1866, and there won’t be another until 2047. So this Jan. 31 is an optimal time to take in a rare Super Blue Blood Moon.

The eclipse will reach totality at 5:29 a.m. PST / 8:29 a.m EST, giving the Moon an eerie red appearance.

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Happy Holidays and Many Happy Returns (for Me)

Happy Holidays” is a pretty simple grammatical construction, as are “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukkah,” “Happy New Year” and various other celebratory sayings. But we use “Many Happy Returns” without, at least in my case, understanding what it means.many-happy-returns-explained

I’m a weirdo who’s lived way too long for my meager abilities and accomplishments, but my 39th birthday (being celebrating for something like the 39th time) arrives this Sunday, on Christmas Eve. Now I follow astrology, numerology, Buddhism, Friedrich Nietzsche, the Akashic Records, The Lotus Sutra and Tao te Ching (The Way) as guides to my life and basically the meaning of existence.

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Most Annoying Word in the English Language

It wouldn’t be my choice, but a poll by Marist College determined that “whatever” is the most annoying word in the American lexicon for the ninth straight year.

grammar-source-answer-to-all-your-English-questionsThe poll was conducted Nov. 6-9 of 1,074 adults with an error factor of 3 percent.

Now, if I were asked to pick the most annoying (and meaningless) word in use by most Americans, I’d say it’s “awesome.” The use of “awesome” appears to be a substitute for people who can’t formulate a sentence around what they really feel.

“How was the movie?” “Awesome.”

“How was dinner?” “Awesome.”

“How was your death?” “Awesome.”

Anyway, you get the idea.

The rest of the list of the top five, in order, consists of “fake news,” “no offense,” “literally,” and “you know what I mean.”

Now, that’s an awesome list, you know?

Is It Ever Okay to Use ‘They’ as a Singular Pronoun?

No heads turn when someone says, “Everyone is bringing their own lunch.”

Except … it should be, grammatically speaking, “Everyone is bringing his own lunch.”

This brings up the whole question of our ubiquitous use of they and their as singular pronouns and possessives. As I noted, no heads turn when people use the plural to modify a singular antecedent.

I mention this after reading an interesting article in the New York Times, “Toppling the Grammar Patriarchy,” which describes French teachers’ rebellion over defaulting to masculine forms even when the subject includes both male and female.

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TERMS OF SERVICE & PRIVACY POLICY