words resemble fish

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Fri May 24 01:53:08 UTC 2002

from Terry Pratchett, The Truth (HarperCollins, 2000), p. 73;
the following is an asterisked footnote to the occurrence of the
words "fracas" and "rumpus" in the speech of the character
William de Worde, editor of a newspaper:

 Words resemble fish in that some specialized ones can survive
 only in a kind of reef, where their curious shapes and usages
 are protected from the hurly-burly of the open sea.  "Rumpus"
 and "fracas" are found only in certain newspapers (in much the
 same way that "beverages" are only found in certain menus).
 They are never used in normal conversation.

[i can't help pointing out the surprising verb agreement in
'"beverages" are' (as if the word "beverages" were being used
rather than mentioned), and the switch from "found only" to
"only found" (copyeditor's correct to natural vernacular) in
a single sentence.]

arnold (zwicky at csli.stanford.edu)

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