Nobody's Perfect Dept.

Chris F Waigl chris at LASCRIBE.NET
Sat Dec 16 14:25:24 UTC 2006

Laurence Horn quoted Jonathan Lighter:

>>  >From a professional explication for undergraduates of cultural-theory terms:
>>   "Phoneme... A phoneme is the smallest significant unit in
>> language; thus, both 'a" and 'an' are phonemes, but 'n' is not."
>>   --Ross C. Murfin, "Glossary of Theoretical and Critical Terms," in
>> Daniel R. Schwarz, ed. _Joseph Conrad: The Secret Sharer...with
>> Biographical and Historical Contexts...and Essays from Five
>> Contemporary critical Perspectives_ (Boston: Bedford Books, 1997),
>> p. 264.
> Well, he got the -eme part right, anyway.  Part credit.

>From  the book _Crypto: how the code rebels beat the government --
saving privacy in the digital age_, Penguin Books, 2002, p. 52 (talking
of encryption algorithms):

No serious competitor emerged. And thus the revised Lucifer, a.k.a.
DSD-1, was destined to be known by a lofty, though generic, moniker: the
Data Encryption Standard. The title would eventually become so familiar
among the digital cognoscenti that it would be pronounced not as an
acronym but as a single phoneme: _Dez_.

This is a passably entertaining book in the purest triumphalist
tradition of science and technology writing complete with a predilection
for gratuitously florid vocabulary. But when Levy is touching upon
topics outside his expertise, he could have done with some better
editing. (He uses "pronounced as an acronym" elsewhere to refer to an
initialism that is not an acronym, ie whose individual letters are
spelled out.)

Chris Waigl

The American Dialect Society -

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