Underscoring my frustration

Those who know me well are well aware that there are certain American-based English words that drive me absolutely nuts. ‘Cookies’ is one of them; ‘trash’ another. Don’t get me started.

Added to this list over the past few years has been ‘underscore,’ which, as far as I can tell, originated through computer naming protocols: eg bill_gates.doc. I have always thought it should be ‘underline’ using Aussie English, not ‘underscore.’

But here’s the thing: I’ve been doing a bit of research (ie Googling) and some of the forums indicate that to underline is to place lines under text whereas an underscore joins_the_gap_between_words (and therefore alters the wrap-around of text, as demonstrated). To make matters worse, apparently they’re interchangeable too (no!).

Now I’m confused about just how indignant I should be at this Gatesian imposition on our English English, because there is sort of a difference.

What_to_do? What to do?

What a to-do.

Ooh, let’s talk about hyphenated words too. Actually, let’s not.

Car culture: wax on, wax off …

3. UPDATE! I got it wrong with No. 2! It should have been:


Silly me.

“I ain’t no fucken lady.”

I’ve used this expression in good humour quite a few times over the past decade or so, mostly in response to a friendly and harmless comment from a male colleague or acquaintance along the lines of, “Goodnight, ladies” at the end of a day’s work, or at a function etc.

Mostly they laugh in a taken aback kind of way, or are horrified – or both, but one reaction overrules the other. And it’s a simple thing. I usually say, “to be a lady is a cultural construct, and I just don’t fit it: wrong breeding and basically just wrong behaviour. Woman I may be; lady I am not,” by which time the man involved is thinking, “Oh shit, how do I get out of this one.”

I don’t mean to offend any men, and I’m not offended by it, and it’s not a rabid feminist thing (I do shave under my arms). As I said today to the latest poor fellow to cop my load, so to speak, “Don’t worry about it, it’s my issue, not yours.”

But the interesting thing is that I used to work with a guy who I could banter with on an intellectual level on all kinds of things, including gender politics, but when HE did the ol’ “Goodnight, ladies” and I delivered my retort, it really floored him. HIS cultural upbringing overpowered his intellectual reasoning and he just couldn’t cope with it at all. I still think he thinks I’m an irrational female on that one – and perhaps (just perhaps) he’s right – but the point’s there to be made, and I make it.

Occasionally I’ve said it to women as well. Some get it, and it’s usually the ones of a certain age and a certain exposure to feminism /cultural studies / dickheads.

Often I get back – from both men and women – “so what CAN I call you then without offending you? Guys? Gals?” (and variants aplenty). You know what I tell ’em?

“How about my name. My name is just fine.”

Makes perfect fucken sense to me.

Car culture .. I think


The apostrophe pedant in me can’t cope, let alone anything else.


The long learning line of language

Pity young children learning the English language:

Seven Year Old, reading from book: “.. and Pelican jumped the q – what’s that word?”

JB: “Yeah, it’s a funny one. After going through all those letters q-u-e-u-e you just say ‘q’.”

Seven Year Old: “That’s the most stupidest, idiotist word I’ve ever heard.”

Ha! Take THAT, English!

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