f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

January 24, 2006

speak blawg?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 11:47 pm

This morning, at Language Log, linguist Benjamin Zimmer from, 

UPenn, posted Blawgs, phonolawgically speaking” as a

follow-up to Mark Liberman’s piece at the same weblog “Who

Let the Blawgs Out?”.  Both were inspired by our war on the

use of “blawg” terminology and the defense of its usage by

the Editor of Blawg Review.   Zimmer takes a look at what

makes “blawg” such an interesting portmanteau or “blend

word,” with special emphasis on the morphophonological

aspects of the word.


shift key neg


For an interesting peek at another profession that is (literally)

focused on parsing words and making fine distinctions, law-

types could not do better than checking out Zimmer’s post 

bisecting the blog-law-blawg portmanteau.


For example, he explains that one type of blended word is

the sandwich variety, where part of one of the blended words 

is inserted into the other word (rather than attached to it). A 

famous example is Lewis Carroll’s “chortle,”  where  chortle =

ch(uck)le + (sn)ort. .  But, “blawg” is unique:

“The recipe for such sandwich words is pretty constant:

take a polysyllabic word and replace the primarily-stressed

syllable with a punchy monosyllabic word of your choice.

It’s clear, however, that blawg is a different beast, morpho-

phonologically speaking. Denise Howell took a monosyllabic

word (blog) and inserted another monosyllable (law), such

that the “bread” for the sandwich consists merely of one

initial consonant (b-) and one final consonant (-g). I know

of no other sandwich word so dominated by its filling.




What’s more, the two component words are maximally over-

lapping for some speakers and nearly so for others. . . . “

[Ed note: a discussion of whether “blawg” sounds like

“blog,” and if it matters, follows.]

After this brief exposure to linguistics, it seems to me that linguists

are science-minded persons, who like words more than numbers,

and are too nice to want to be lawyers.  Like lawyers, however,

they apparently do tend to take liberties when describing the pos-

itions of others.  Thus, where I said I was surprised, Benjamin says

I am “shocked.”  Where I merely gave a prominent example, he says

I am “troubled.” 


One thing for sure, I bet Benjamin and Mark would be quite annoyed,

if someone wanted to permanently call their weblog a “bling“, merely

because weblogs by linguists are so unique.


p.s. (Jan. 25, 10 AM): Just a quick apology to Benjamin Zimmer

for mistakenly calling him “Zimmerman” in the first version of this

post.  All the portmanteau talk led me astray: “when it comes

to morphophonology, Zimmer is the Man!”


update (Jan. 27, 2005):  Denise Howell, coiner of “blawg” and still

one of our very favorite persons in the entire blogiverse, has a piece

at Bag & Baggage about the recent discussion at Language Log,

by linguists Benjamin Zimmer and Mark Liberman on the use of

“blawg.” Denise suggests, in “I, Sandwich Dominatrix,” Jan. 25, 2006) 

without ever linking to f/k/a or mentioning us, that:


                                                              Tyler, the original “baggage”tyler swinger

“If you are among the folks — linguists excluded; it’s their

job — who might be spending a little too much thought and

energy on this borderline microbial issue, please consider

channeling your efforts toward something of more tangible

benefit to mankind.”

See our response by scrolling down to the update to our original post

on making the word “blawg” obsolete.”

“snowflakeS” Speak Brooks?  We sure do.  So, here are a

half dozen haiku and senryu from Randy Brooks:


big brother’s grin . . .

the last piece of the puzzle

out of his pocket





mourning dove

returns to the porch rail

      new snow fluffs off






the sap begins to flow

out of the evergreen




expect delays 




eyeing the spot

where our bumpers bumped–

snow in his thick eyebrows







cedar walking cane

hangs from the coat rack

dust on the handles curves





“schoolBrooks” Randy Brooks,

from School’s Out (Press Here, 1999)  


                                                                                                            trashman small

speak, Barry!

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 8:51 pm

We just found them last night and can’t wait to share a stash

of never-seen-here poems by Barry George — found at Dietmar

Tauchner’s Bregengemme website (where you’ll also find Guest

pages by Peggy Lyles and Ed Markowski, among others, as

well as haiku auf Deutsch).


after our quarrel

mousetraps grimly loaded

for the night  





in a vacant lot

firemen practice—

shooting at the sun




“Mouse Lawyer horiz”


dining out—

the comedian faces

away from the crowd  






boy watching

his parents talk…

sipping both straws




“dining out” – Paper Wasp (Spring 2004)

“after our quarrel” – Modern Haiku 23.3 (1997)

“in a vacant lot” – Frogpond 15.1 (2002)  

“boy watching” – Cicada 30 (1999); *Psychopoetica 46 (2000)



tiny check  Like Matt Homann, I want to welcome the new weblog by

David Maister,   In a post dated Jan. 23, 2006, David asks:

“Why do law firms find it so hard to understand that a feudal

warlord system forcing everyone to work harder is not the

height of mankind’s achievement in civilization? I have spent

twenty years trying to say all professions look similar and can

learn from each other, but I’m finally prepared to concede that

lawyers are different – and it has nothing to do with economics.”

Go to David’s website to find out what he thinks the problem is with

lawyers and law firms (and see the proposed solution, which includes

a “mutually committed force that can throw off the oppressor and craft

a more civil and economicallyfunctioning society”).  


fiddle bow 


Of course, we believe that lawyer greed is part of the problem and

greed seems to us to be economic, despite all of its psychological roots. 

I hope David Maister would agree with our sentiments from Jan. 2005,

“When it comes to fees, our legal profession is fiddling away

its scant goodwill, while its clients — and youngest members —

scream “fie” and are treated like foes.” . . .


“If young lawyers want to work saner schedules but don’t

want to sacrifice income or “prestige,” they need to stop

whining and realize that they are part of the problem.”

                                                                                                                                                              diner dude gray



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