Archive for February, 1998

hh: Five, Seven, Five

Refrigerators. Refrigerators are cold. Refrigerators. —unknown In Japanese, two of the character sets are syllabaries, with a single symbol for each syllable found in the language. I always figured that had something to do with the origin of haiku, the unrhymed verse form consisting of three lines, with five syllables in the first and third […]

gg: By Definition

" is a bad method, to start from words to define things..." —Ferdinand de Saussure, as quoted by Ogden and Richards Penny: The gostak distims the doshes. Quentin: What's a gostak? Penny: That's what distims the doshes. Quentin: What's distimming? Penny: It's what the gostak does to the doshes. Quentin: Okay, but what are doshes? […]

ff: Tempos Fugue It

(Unfortunately, this is another column best viewed in browsers that support tables. Apologies to lynx users.) The fugue, as a musical form, is looser than the canon; less canonical, one might say. The following piece is meant to be spoken aloud in parallel, in two voices; each line on the left is spoken in synch […]

ee: He, She, and It (Reader Comments and Addenda)

(Note that the former GFP FAQ has moved to a new URL and has become the Gender-Neutral Pronoun FAQ, and John Chao is now named John Williams.) My idea of including reader-comments pages for my columns came originally from Douglas Hofstadter's Metamagical Themas, collecting his columns from Scientific American, in which he includes a "Post […]

ee: He, She, and It

There are too many schools of thought on the matter to list (he said, beginning in media res), but here are some of the most common: Those who believe that "he" remains a gender-neutral pronoun and should be used in all cases where the subject's gender is not specifically known to be female. (With "one" […]