Friday, October 9, 2009

How do I type an umlaut?

Herta Müller won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Yeah, I’ve never heard of her either.

It’s Friday. The melange welcomes you.

Remember when I wrote that column about how to successfully pretend you read a book. No? I received a deluge of comments (read: five) reminding me that newspaper reporters shouldn’t suggest more effective ways to lie.

Well, it seems that I would be in the majority in Britain. Most of this link pertains to people lying about movies they haven’t seen, but it includes this interesting paragraph:

Two thirds of British people also lie about their literary knowledge. George Orwell’s 1984 is the book most Britons dishonestly claim to have read, followed by War and Peace and James Joyce’s Ulysses, according to the organisers of the World Book Day.

(Hopefully, this story is the only time I will see Dirty Dancing sandwiched between The Godfather trilogy and Shawshank Redemption.)

Next subject: Marist College conducted a telephone survey that identified “whatever” as the most annoying word in the American vernacular.

I’ll second that. “Whatever” accomplishes the double duty of being rude and devoid of content. “Whatever” expresses no thought deeper than ambivalence and irritates most people who hear the word.

Some other misfits: “you know,” “at the end of the day,” “anyway” and “it is what it is.”

I also want to nominate the superfluous use of the word “like.” Not everything is a simile, people.

However, I have a soft spot for the phrase “it is what it is.” Yes, it states the obvious, but it also expresses an acceptance that is difficult to otherwise phrase.

For example:
“Your house is on fire.”
“It is what it is.”

I consider it the counterpoint of the urban phrase “everything is everything,” which tends to have a positive connotation.

“I got my paycheck today.”
“Everything is everything.”

Finally, I feel like I should say something about Müller, but I don’t know her... at all. Until this morning, I didn’t know she existed. So instead of cobbling an uninformed opinion, I offer you this link as an apology.

-Jason Lea,

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

People spend more money on overdraft fees on their checking accounts per year than on books.

Considering myself well read, and well read on being well-read, I also had never heard of Muller.

By the way, you never divulged the secret to typing that umlaut.

October 9, 2009 at 1:50 PM 

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