I just started reading a Poe book which is the third book I’ve picked up in the past week that spells role as rôle. Given the publication dates and authors of the books in question, it’s been unclear to me whether the use of the circumflex was (a) British, (b) old-fashioned, or (c) both. So […]

Dramatic and undramatic

Dramatic and evocative nouns are often used in common phrases, and in titles of works of fiction. And they apparently become even more dramatic and evocative when paired with other such nouns and linked using and. For example: Blood and fire Thunder and roses Lace and steel Sword and sorcery So I’m amusing myself with […]

My aardvark lady

Over at “These Lyrics Do Not Exist,” I prompted the AI with the topic “aardvarks,” the genre Pop, and the mood Happy. Here is part of the song it generated for me: Verse 1 When you move like aardvark creature My heart, you belong to me Aardvark, midnight best friends She heard a scream Pre-Chorus […]

Pandora’s jar

About Pandora’s box, Wikipedia says: The word translated as box was actually a large jar (πίθος pithos) in Greek. […] Many scholars see a close analogy between Pandora herself, who was made from clay, and the clay jar which dispenses evils. The mistranslation of pithos is usually attributed to the 16th century humanist Erasmus who, […]

Typos that reverse meaning

It’s fairly common for a writer to accidentally leave out the word not and thereby write the opposite of what they intended. But I feel like it’s less common for other kinds of typos to result in a reversal of meaning. I just came across one: It was an intense feeling of fatherless. Based on […]


Aldiborontiphoskyphorniostikos is a book, published around 1825, containing a paragraph for each letter of the alphabet; each entry adds something new at the start and then repeats everything that came before. The book described itself as a game, in which players were to quickly read entries aloud, without stumbling. Some of the entries included long […]

A font to avoid in body text: Weiss

Many years ago, I read and enjoyed Richard S. Grant’s 1987 novel Rumors of Spring. But it had one flaw that lessened my enjoyment: the typeface that it was printed in. (At least in the mass-market paperback edition; I don’t know about other editions.) The letters of the typeface were fairly attractive. But the punctuation […]

Up to … or more!

Pet peeve: The phrase up to [some number] or more. I see this now and then in ads, in lines like (made-up example) “The battery lasts up to 8 hours or more!” If you take that phrase literally, it’s meaningless—the battery might last less than 8 hours, or it might last more, who knows? Vaguely […]