All 2 entries tagged Words

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August 20, 2007


It always annoys me when "humanoid" is used to mean "human". It doesn't; it means roughly "human shaped".

Humans are humanoid; in Star Trek Vulcans, Klingons, Bajorans, Cardassians, etc. are humanoid; in Stargate the Asgard, the Nox, the pre-ascended Ancients, the Wraith, etc. are humanoid; the Doctor is humanoid; in fact probably 99% of all aliens in sci-fi are humanoid, because the make-up is easy.

The one that really irritated me was the later episodes of Star Trek Enterprise with the Xindi. The reptilian fifth of the planet habitually distinguished themselves from humans and the primate fifth by calling them both "humanoid", when all the Xindi (except the aquatics) were humanoid.

It's not a particularly important point, but who said it had to be...

March 23, 2007

Come again?

I've just been reminded of sentences that are really confusing if they don't have any punctuation and which feature the same word many times. Two notable examples of which I am aware are:

Smith where Jones had had had had had had had had had had had the examiner's approval.

Which makes a lot more sense with some punctuation:

Smith, where Jones had had "had", had had "had had". "Had had" had had the examiner's approval.

If you're still confused: Jones wrote "had", Smith wrote "had had", and in the context of whatever sentence they were both writing the examiner decided that "had had" was the correct choice.

The second sentence is one I came across more recently, and is:

Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo.

which refers to the animal I am now going to refer to (possibly incorrectly, I've never been sure) as "bison" to avoid confusion, the American city of Buffalo, and the verb "to buffalo" which means to intimidate, to deceive, or to confuse. Some clarity can be gleaned by adding a bit of punctuation and general grammar (i.e. capitalising the city name):

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo, buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo.

Which becomes even clearer if you rephrase it:

Bison from Buffalo that other Buffalo bison intimidate, in turn intimidate Buffalo bison already intimidated by yet more Buffalo bison.

That's assuming, of course, that there are any buffalo in Buffalo...

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