Category Archives: language

What’s Your Favorite Emoji?

What’s Your favorite emoji?

At a holiday gathering, I asked family members if they ever have a hard time finding the right emoji.

They all said no, and looked at me as if I were crazy. But I do find emojis lacking at times.

I use these little faces and pictures quite often in texts and emails. They’re fun, a quick way to add a smile to the communication. Or a teary eye, or a thoughtful frown. I use the smiley more often than anything. A smile at the end of a text can mean I like you, I’m happy, etc. I sometimes substitute a smile emoji for an exclamation point, which I am inclined to overuse.

Sometimes I just can’t find the appropriate emoji. I scan through, but I don’t find an emoji conveying frustration, hope, overwhelmed-ness, joy, or “Ick.” On the other hand, there are some that I never use, because I just don’t like them—the red devil, for example.

And there are quite a few emojis that I don’t understand. There’s one with a big smile and a tear in one eye, another with a big smile and tears coming out of both eyes. Are they the same, to different degrees? Or is the first one happy-sad, the second laughing till you cry? And what about the one with two blue paths going down the face; what are those paths?

I rarely use the ones with a big mouthful of teeth—too aggressive. I don’t know whether they’re super-friendly or friendly-angry.

Sometimes an emoji really works for me. If I’m confused, I like the upside-down face. If I’m excited, I can use a happy smile and a party favor and a woman dancing flamenco. Other times, I can’t find an emoji that expresses the feeling I want to convey. Then it’s time for the last resort–words.

Do you have a favorite emoji? Or other thoughts on emojis? I’d love to hear them.

Let’s Get Rid of Whomever!

It’s time to address the elephant in the room: the word whomever, and its rampant incorrect usage. The linguists call it “hypercorrection,” using something that sounds more correct, but isn’t.

I used to think it was just people who were trying to appear smarter who used whomever, but the other day when I saw the word used incorrectly twice in one sentence in the newspaper, I thought, this problem has reached epidemic proportions!

It was something like “Whomever plans to run for office, and whomever needs to register to vote….” Are you kidding me? I know we’re just a small semi-rural area in the Midwest, but I do expect our reporters to understand the English language.

The fact is, whoever is the appropriate form when it is the subject of the sentence or clause. Whomever is the object form.

Some people seem to think that whomever lends dignity or formality, like Whereas in a proclamation.  But “Whoever made this mess needs to clean it up” is correct, whether you’re talking about the kids in the kitchen or the politicians in Washington, D.C.  So is, “I would like to thank whoever voted for that bill.”

Here’s an example of the incorrect usage of whomever that’s been weighing heavily on me for a while:

On an email from a fellow book-club member: “I wonder if I could trade with whomever is next.”  The writer had good intentions and tbought she was using correct grammar.  But she was hyper correcting.

Here are two examples of the correct usage of whomever:

“I will welcome whomever you invite to dinner.”

Whomever the people choose will be our next representative.”

Still, while the grammar is correct, I would be perfectly happy with whoever in both cases.  And I really wouldn’t mind getting rid of whomever altogether.  It would keep things simple and solve the hypercorrection problem.

I hope that whoever is reading this will think twice before using the word whomever. Ever.

How Do You Like My Hashtags?

I just posted something on Facebook and included several hashtags. This is new for me. I had to go back and edit them when I realized you don’t put any spaces between the words!

How weird is that?  And why?

Well anyway, I did it, and I can’t believe it.  These things go against the conventions of the English language as I’ve known them, and taught them.

And yet . . . I am fascinated by hashtags, and all the changes in the language that have resulted from our use of technological devices.  I have changed along with everyone else.

On texts, for example, I don’t always use periods or capital letters.  Yes, I feel guilty–but I’m in a hurry, so why bother?  Does it really matter?

I still use complete sentences, with punctuation, in my emails.  Well, except I’ve noticed lately how often I omit the subject pronoun in my sentences:  “Got your email.  Hope you’re doing well.  Don’t have time right now for a long reply.”  Emoji emoji, send.

And now hashtags are occurring naturally to me, in the same way that new words heard by young children begin to pop naturally out of their mouths, or new slang expressions, after you’ve heard them used for a while, are suddenly not only used by you, but seem like the only possible way to express that thought or feeling.

I’ve observed people’s hashtags for a while now on Facebook; I’ve been intrigued and entertained by them.  There’s something very amusing about a short narrative with a hashtag or two attached, like afterthoughts or side remarks.

So today I tried it myself, and I’m not sure how well I did, but I liked doing it!

#alwaysalinguist #nevertooold



“Like” as in “Hate”?

The word “Like” is a simple one—short, clear, unambiguous, nice. That is, it used to be, until Facebook. On Facebook, that word is an action that can be taken in response to someone’s comment or photo. I’m sure everyone reading this has done it a thousand times. I know I have.  And, it seems to me the word “Like” in this setting has a multitude of meanings.

1)the simple one—I like this;
2)this is okay, not great, but okay;
3)I don’t know you well, but I’m enjoying your family pictures;
4)I don’t know what to say about this;
5)I don’t agree with you, but I don’t want to argue;
6)I can’t believe you posted that; what’s wrong with you?
7)it must be nice to take all those vacations (I’m jealous!);
8)I don’t know what you’re talking about;
9)I wish you’d stop posting this crap;
10)get a life;
11)I’m very close to unfriending you;

Am I right, or am I too cynical? Let me know—or if you don’t want to let me know what you really think, just “Like” this post!