Sunday, November 30, 2014

Facebook word quizzes-#851-900


851-What do these words have in common? indented-posted-cable

852-Discern the convergent words: a)less-passion-cup b)be-shoe-tree c)be-twist-cotton

853-Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that refers to a lackluster versifier

854-Discern the convergent words: a)alive-banana-oil b)fish-gourd-cola c)white-cut-singing

855-What do these words have in common? redactor-tendon-compadr

856-Discern the convergent words: a)private-wash-public b)egg-shot-pumpkin c)bump-iron-pump

857-Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that refers dirt of an Islamic ruler

858-Discern the convergent words: a)oat-dish-died b)ring-sear-woman c)age-breath-pepper

859-What do these words have in common? region-obvious-demotion

860--Discern the convergent words: a)avocado-drop-led b)black-pie-bomb c)top-leaf-skin

861-Which word doesnt belong in this grouping? perpetuity-proprietor-personality-repertoire

862--Discern the convergent words: a)fore-garden-grass b)elope-acid-peas c)pot-corner-hawk

863-What do these words have in common? berserk-bidet-peculiar-tragedy

864-Discern the convergent words: a)jerked-complaint-eater b)floss-cane-walk-sugar c)on-corn-bad

865-aside from having 7 letters ,What do these words have in common? charity-gravity-visitor

866--Discern the convergent words: a)glass-ballet-house b)trick-red-top c)bra-suicide-rein

867-What do these words & phrases have in common? adder-auger- humble pie-newt

868-Discern the convergent words: a)farthing-wife-fin b)boy-sour-money c)pie-per-away

869-Which word doesn't belong in this grouping? d condom-crap-hooker-maverick

870-Discern the convergent words: a)lake-lick-old b)favor-house-powder c)days-potato-bar

871-Aside from starting with s what do these words and expressions have in common? stumblingblock-(stranger in a strangeland-stiff-necked)

872-Discern the convergent words: a)breast-talk-cold b)bus-red-tractor c)superb-magazine-night

873-Hidden within the word amulet we find a mule and inside crate, a rat. Name an animal that can be found inside another animal. crate emu

874-Discern the convergent words: a)toe-salon-brush b)woods-flas-room c)egg-tax-bob

875-What do these words have in common? pal-chav-shiv-drag(cross dressing sense)

876- Discern the convergent words:a)lounge-maker-maternity b)blouse-girl-jumper c)robin-baby-wink

877-What do these words have in common? car-fort-divers

878-Discern the convergent words: a)met-sugar-bed b)palm-press-tea c)mushroom-Spanish-western

879-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that refers to lackadaisical hooters

880-Discern the convergent words: a)colony-eager-skin b)coast-net-screen c)black-lake-sea-

881-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that refers to alienate nco estrange sergeant

882-Discern the convergent words: a)-some-paste-eye b) blue-less-awn c)wipe-ail-hard

883-What do these words have in common? entity-pantry -squad

884-Discern the convergent words: a)round-tax-square b)golden-liver-muscle c)libel-sausage-first

885-Name a 2 word anagrrammatic phrase that refers to a govt comprised of political exiles

886-Discern the convergent words: a)no-off-by b)warts-heaven-tie c)sea-mad-leg

887-What do these words have in common? canter-derive-realm

888-Discern the convergent words: a)fruit-mobile-on b)saw-feed-thief c)nut-spider-around

889-What do these words have in common? deified-Islam-deicide

890-Discern the convergent words: a)old-dough-water b)ears-hole-stew c)root-soup-stick

891-What do these words have in common? designed-conversion-muting

892-Discern the convergent words:a)colony-eager-tail b)circus-bane-flicker c)almondine-lake-speckled

893-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that refers to a monarchist with no friends

894-Discern the convergent words: a)thrash-colored-whipped b)vanilla-walk-wedding c)can-juice-rotten

895-What do these words have in common? brave- forge- knish

896-Discern the convergent words: a)pearl-up-wheat b)cliff-devour-famil c)bull-men-legs

897-Name a 2 word anagrrammatic phrase that means circles restobar

898-Discern the convergent words: a)hook-hole-pin b)medal-fish-gang c)programming-annoy-led

899-What do these words have in common? arcade-bust-escort-frigate-umbrella

900-Discern the convergent words: a)cracker-club-jerk b)tea-almond-dog c)practitioner-con-in

Friday, November 21, 2014

Importance of Definitions in the Legal Arena

(This article appeared originally in the Dec Lexpert with the title A Fruit By Any Other Name)

What's in a definition? Maybe a tariff rate or your freedom

Howard Richler

Whereas all agree that a rose is a flower, it is not as clear what we should call a tomato.


Tomato: A round vegetable with bright-red, occasionally yellow, skin and pulpy seedy flesh. It grows like fruit on climbing plants and is widely eaten cooked or raw.(Encarta World English Dictionary)

Tomato: The glossy fleshy fruit of a solanaceous plant, a native of tropical America, now cultivated as a garden vegetable in temperate as well as tropical lands. (OED)

Lest you think that deciding whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable is a matter that would only trouble pedants like me, I can assure you that it has been an issue that has troubled some of the greatest legal minds.

Take this 1883 situation: the US Congress passed a tariff act that placed a 10% import duty on vegetables but no tariff on fruits. So when the produce-importing Nix family brought in tomatoes from the West Indies, they were hit with a 10% duty on the basis of the import being one of vegetables.

Needless to say the Nixes were not amused, and botanically they had a solid basis for being disgruntled as tomatoes are the freshly ripened ovaries of a plant, i.e ;, the fruit thereof. However, legally speaking, matters weren't as cut and dried, and a six-year legal battle ensued with arguments being presented before the Supreme Court in 1893. As a result, both defense and prosecution cited myriad dictionary definitions that supported their position. The defense even cited definitions for cucumbers, eggplant, pepper and squash to bolster their argument.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that tomatoes were vegetables. While admitting that biologically a tomato was a fruit, Justice Horace Gray stated that tomatoes were served “at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish or meats which constitute the principal part of the repast, and not, like fruits, generically, as dessert.”

And if you think this case rested on nit-picking produce definitions, fast forward to the 21st century for an even more casuistic case. To wit, eagle-eyed lawyers for a company that imported Marvel character action figures noticed that dolls were subject to a 12% tariff rate whereas toys were taxed at 6.8%. Dolls were distinguished from toys by “representing only human beings and parts and accesories thereof.”* Because the said action figures were classified as dolls at the higher tariff rate, Marvel Comics subsidiary Toy Biz argued before the US Court of International Trade that their action figures, such as X-Men, represented “non-human creatures” and hence qualified for the lower duty rate. In 2003,the US Court of International Trade ruled in favour of Toy Biz declaring that mutants such as Spider-Man were “non-human.”

This ruling, however, did not sit well with fans who felt that their action heroes and villains were being objectified. Brian Wilkinson, editor of the online site X-Fan, found Marvel's position untenable and summed up the disgust of aficionados in this vituperative post: “This is almost unthinkable. Marvel's superheroes are supposed to be as human as you or I. They live in New York.They have families and go to work. And now they're no longer human!” In a statement, Marvel Comics responded to this and other jeremiads with adroit sophistry: “Our heoes are living breathing human beings – but humans who have extraordinary abilities. A decision that the X-Men figures indeed do have 'non-human' characteristics further proves our characters have special, out-of-this-world powers.”

*The Harmonized Tariff Schedule has since been changed and dolls and toys are now classified in the same category.

In these cases the definitions of words such as “fruit,” “vegetable” and “human” only impinged on tariff rates, but the meaning ascribed to words also looms large when criminal offenses are involved. I take you back to 1926 when William McBoyle was convicted and sentenced for an alleged violation of the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act. The vehicle in question was a stolen airplane that McBoyle had an aviator transport from Illinois to Oklahoma. McBoyle's counsel contended that the word “vehicle” included only conveyances that travel on the ground and hence the stolen airplane was not a vehicle but really was a ship and under the doctrine of ejusdem generis, “any other self-propelled vehicle,” could not be construed as a ground-based vehicle. Webster's definition of vehicle was cited: “That in or on which any person or thing is or may be carried. Esp. on land, as a coach, wagon, car, bicycle, etc.” Germane to this case was the fact that when the statute was passed in 1919, airplanes were not specified therein.

Here is part of the ruling rendered by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, in 1931:

Although it is not likely that a criminal will..consider the text of the law before he murders or steals, it is reasonable that a fair warning should be given to the world in a language that the common world will understand. When a rule.. is laid down in words that evoke in the common mind only the picture of vehicles moving on land, the statute should not be extended to aircraft simply because it may seem to us that a similar policy applies, or the speculation that if the legislature had thought of it, very likely broader words would have been used.

Judgment reversed.”

Richler's latest book Arranged & Deranged Wit will be published in 2015.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pleonasm-Excerpted from the book Arranged & Deranged Wit to be published in 2015

We are totally surrounded (on all sides) by redundancies.


Howard Richler

I first became aware of a penchant for political verbal diarrhea back in 1993. CBC journalist Hana Gartner was interviewing then Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chr├ętien who asserted that he was respected by most Quebecers, and that it was only the “intellectual intelligentsia” who disparaged him.

Chr├ętien was following in the flowing tradition exemplified by fellow politicians. President Calvin Coolidge once opined that “When large numbers of men are unable to find work, unemployment results.” The man who provided impeachment insurance for George Herbert Bush, former Vice President Dan Quayle, said in a 1988 speech, “I got through a number of things in the area of defense, like showing the importance of cruise missiles and getting them more accurate so that we can have precise precision.” In 2012, Brian Pallister, leader of tbe Progressive Conservative party in Manitoba, expressed his hope that “Everyone will enjoy themselves this holiday season, even you infidel atheists.”

These are some of the more egregious examples of redundant language but yea, we are not drowning in a bog of unnecessary words, but in a veritable swampland. Why can't things be merely null, why do they have to be void as well? If I look in every nook, must I explore every cranny? Must I desist when I cease, abet when I aid, choose when I pick and rave when I rant? Can't I just cease, aid, pick and rant? When we talk about “complete anihilation,” “frozen tundra,” “close proximity,” and a “woman pregnant with child,” I ponder, what are the alternatives?

Have you ever seen a young geezer, a cold water heater, a non-tuna fish, a non-living survivor, or a non-lazy bum? I've smelled, with my own nose, different bouquets but the only type I've ever seen, with my own eyes, is the flowery variety.

Am I paranoid, or is there some secret of time only I can't intuit? Samuel Goldwyn said, “I never make predictions, especially about the future” and the hoi polloi are constantly referring to “future plans,” and “advance warning.” This implies there are alternatives like past plans and a past future.The past is equally beguiling. Why do we specify “past experience” and “never before”? Aren't all experiences “past”? Why does “before” have to be added to “never”? Is there a hidden quantum dimension called the “never after” waiting to be unearthed by string theory? I worry when someone tells me the “honest truth,” or gives me a “garden salad” to eat, or something “100 per cent pure” to drink. Does that mean that if they only tell me the truth or ply me with a mere salad or a beverage that's only 99.99 per cent pure that I'm in “serious danger”? Do I overaxaggerate? Please R.S.V.P so I can overcome my state of uneasy anxiety.

Mercifully, it takes but a single word to describe verbal redundancy. The term is “pleonasm” defined by the OED as “the use of more words in a sentence than are necessary to express the meaning.” It derived from the Latin pleonasmus which, in turn,

came from the Greek pleonasmos (more-ness). Antony's line in Julius Caesar, “the most unkindest cut of all,” is an example of a pleonasm done for effect, as is the biblical “I am that I am.” In any case, after what happened to Lot's wife, Moses was probably

squeamish about accusing the Burning Bush of redundancy.

Most pleonasms, however, are not so stylish and only denote poor form. “Could you repeat that again?” is an example of a commonly used pleonasm. A redundancy can be avoided by just saying either,“Could you repeat that?” Don't say “each and every” and “at this point in time” when “every” and “at this time” suffice, nor say “she is a woman who” when “she is” will do, or use “if and when” when only “if” is required.

Perhaps I'm just an unprogressive conservative who pines for the halcyon days when you didn’t need to qualify that a gift was free, a victim innocent, a record new, and scholarship academic. In the past, one didn't have to specify strictly private or natural grass. Then again, some pleonasms like “cash money” and “disposable garbage” have evolved into possible states of non-redundancy. Some might say that in the past “heterosexual sex” was pleonastic. Unfortunately, a former pleonasm,“healthy tan,” has mutated into an oxymoronic state in our ozone-depleted world.

So, who is to blame? As I live and breathe, I think I can pinpoint the party responsible for our modern orgy of redundancy. To paraphrase Zola, J'accuse Raid Bug Repellant. They unveiled the slogan “Raid kills bugs dead” in 1966. To keep pace with

this linguistic overkill, other advertisements stressed products that were “new innovations,” and “very unique.” McDonald's isn't content to sell billions of hamburgers but “billions and billions.” and Soft Soap Body Wash doesn’t merely make you “clean,” you become “more than just clean.” And don't think the pleonastic process only flows towards aggrandizement. Isn't a dot miniscule enough? Must we endure microdots?

N.B. (Making a duplicate copy in any shape or form without my express, intended permission, and authorization is totally and utterly allowed, and indeed more preferable than alternative options.)

Excerpted from Howard's upcoming book Arranged & Deranged Wit.