Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed May 19 19:36:42 UTC 2010

FWIW, I've never come across _FANBOY(S)_ until today. If this was
being used as early as the '50's, it didn't make it into that
well-known dialect island, Saint Louis. And, IMO, "i before e except
after c or when sounded as a as in 'neighbor' and 'weigh'," is
extremely useful. Naturally, I've come across instances for which this
mnemonic gives the wrong result. But, IME, for the average,
pre-collegiate student, it works like a charm.

As for "fanboy, I don't think that I noticed that until the spelling,
_phanboi(z)_, became popular. I read Slashdot on a daily basis and,
there, the term has been weakened to the point that it means,
essentially, a person who believes that one operating system or
portable is better than another simply as a matter of faith, is proud
of it, and  isn't afraid to say so. Non-phanboiz write things like,

IMO. [Some] system blows like Katrina. It won't let me do X or Y, but
it's the only one that allows me to do Z, thereby simplifying the job
and increasing my work flow. So, I'm stuck with it.

The  [Some] system phanboi replies,

"Won't let [you] do X or Y"? WTF, you dork?! [Some] system eliminated
the need to bother with X and Y back in 1979! RTMF and find the

Of course, for our non-phanboi, saying that [Some] system is superior
because it has eliminated the need for X and Y is like telling an
average person that the unicycle is superior because it has eliminated
the need for a second wheel.


On Wed, May 19, 2010 at 12:15 PM, Benjamin Zimmer
<bgzimmer at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Fanboy (UNCLASSIFIED)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> My latest Word Routes column talks about McCracken's "fanboy" research
> and also the development of the FANBOYS acro-mnemonic for coordinating
> conjunctions:
> On Tue, May 18, 2010 at 1:46 PM, Mullins, Bill AMRDEC
> <Bill.Mullins at> wrote:
>>> Thanks for this. Very interesting.
>>> Though I disagree with the notion that we "professional
>>> etymologists" "blew it" simply because the 1919 example
>>> doesn't have the same nuances as the modern one, because the
>>> definition makes this clear. Hrmph.
>>> Jesse Sheidlower
>>> OED
>> And a well-written comment by Jack
>> makes the point very well
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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