14 November 2005


Came across a rarity of a lexical item today, in a summary of Edmonton beating Colorado in NHL action:

"Yeah, absolutely," Pronger said when asked if it felt good to finally get off the schneid.

The context is that Chris Pronger socred his first goal of the hockey season in his team's 20th game. Schneid?

I ran a Google search just on that item and found an archive of "word-detective.com". There's no anchors on the page, so I'll summarize that people write to the Detective to ask about obscure words, and it turns out somebody wanted to know about schneid. The word detective's answer:

To be "on the schneid" means to be on a losing streak, racking up a series of losing, and especially scoreless, games.

This suggests a property of teams rather than of players, but it makes sense to apply to an individual's scoring slump. What's neater, if true, is the source of the expression: the detective says it's from the card came Gin:

Apparently the original sense was that if you were "schneidered" in gin you were "cut" (as if by a tailor) from contention in the game. "Schneider" first appeared in the literature of card-playing about 1886, but the shortened form "schneid" used in other sports is probably of fairly recent vintage.

This amounts to another example of a card-playing lexical item passing into sports.

Meanwhile, for the sake of curiosity, the detective adds "shut out" as another crossover item. This one (s)he attributes to horse racing, as a term applicable to a potential bettor arriving too late to bet, but it's also used in baseball and hockey to refer to a game in which one team is scoreless.

I'll check on schneid and shut-out in the office in the morning.

06 November 2005

aloha, joe

Joe Paopao won't be coaching next year, which means he won't be providing data for the linguistics-of-sports theme that has risen to prominence on Piloklok (as he did, for example, here. We can't let him go without an acknowledgement of one of the best names (Paopao = Pow-pow) in professional contact sports (perhaps only Tedy Bruschi, i.e. Brewski, has an edge), and one of the best nicknames to boot, the Throwin Samoan (from his days as a CFL quarterback with the BC Lions, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Ottawa Rough Riders, and Winnipeg Blue Bombers). I'm sure there are other Throwin Samoans out there, but given Paopao's vintage (played in the 70s) and position (QB) I suppose he may have been the first.

When I saw the headline, Aloha Joe, I thought it might not have been entirely appropriate, given he's of Samoan descent. Of course, Alofa Joe would be a pretty cryptic headline for most people, and regardless, Paopao was born in Honolulu, so it's all good.

04 November 2005

what can brown make you blog about?

This morning on the way to work there was a preponderance of UPS trucks, enough to make me remark, How can Brown get in YOUR way? (A play on the UPS slogan, What can Brown do for you?) Immediately I was reminded of two things. One is a claim somewhere in the syntax literature that idioms allow the subject to be switched out (e.g. Ed/Sheila kicked the bucket to mean “die”) but do not pivot around the subject (e.g., there is no idiom like The bucket got Ed/Sheila.) Not up on my syntax reading, and I can’t think of it offhand.

The other thing was this apparently Russian phenomenon of making ironic comments orienting to the 2nd person. Things like, “in Russia, you don’t get a job, your job gets YOU”. This was blogged about recently (but I can’t remember which site), possibly as a snowclone, with the structure You don’t Xv Yn, Yn Xv YOU. It’s also an example of a more general rhetorical device (whose name also escapes me) with the structure [not] Xv [predicate [Yn]], Yn [predicate[Xv]]. JFK used it in “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” (Notably un-Russian, since the YOU is a subject, not an object, in the second clause).

Nevertheless I was curious if anyone else had played on the UPS slogan. The answer is yes, but very rarely: almost all of them are of the structure [question word] [aux] Brown [predicate] YOU, obtainable with Google searches like “how can Brown” + “ups”. So far, who does not seem to have been used as the question word, but I have found lots of hows and one why. Looking for variations using “what” is tricky because of the occurrence of the actual slogan – it appears that many other instances just repeat the slogan ironically. Also, can is typical as the auxiliary, but do can substitute as well.

Here are some examples. Many (but not all) use YOU in the verbal complement, and many also use "scare quotes" to mark their statement as a faux slogan. (With apologies to UPS; satisfied customers don't go online to vent...)

“So, how can Brown screw your delivery up, today? When it absolutely, positively, has to be somewhere else, use UPS”

could handle the idiots, but not the shitty management. the’re on the way out…i hope fedex takes most of the market share. “How can brown shit on you”

BUT WAIT, if I let them direct bill my account all will be OK >>>>NOT IN MY LIFETIME >> HOW CAN BROWN FK U? real easy

Friday, January 14 How can Brown poop on you? OK, it's time for a rant I figure. ... However, it's coming by UPS again, so cross your fingers. Logically. ...

Interests, Quads. Occupation, UPS how can brown bring you down

I used to work as tech support for UPS (Motto: "How can Brown fuck with YOU?")

I hesitate to ask this -- but how can brown put "a few small dents in the tip of the headstock"?

How can brown screw you?! Long...

like i said in the contract there's no language that we can find to support that statement.my question is can we win a grevince that could get us extra work.How can BROWN get away with this??? 'Cuz they can. Most Locals won't fight for these issues. These have been issues for many contracts and language that would address this has been left out

And why would the fedex guy get more than the ups man???? That's wrong. What did brown ever do to you ...

And as for Teamster 251..."What Did Brown Do To Him".

Thus, some intermodals run hard, very hard, because Brown says so. Why does Brown say so? Because FEDEX is mostly running by truck and these schedules must be competitive for market share.

I'm getting sick of paying UPS. "Why does Brown keep DOing me?"