or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Possibly another tiny, incremental addition to the ongoing project that is the English language. Or possibly just a little typo of omission. I prefer to think it's the former.

From Boingboing:

In this youtube, a young man sits down and a table and begins singing backwards (I won't spoiler the video for you by naming the song), while undertaking a variety of time-bound activities -- popping balloons, knocking over a Jenga tower, pouring liquid, etc.

Unless the writer left out the word "video" in the fourth position, "YouTube" (it should probably be rendered in upper case, at least for now) has now become a noun that means "a video posted on the website YouTube", in exactly the same way as "Google" has become a verb meaning "to perform an Internet search using the Google website" (however much the lawyers might hate it). It's a form of metonymy, with the whole ("YouTube") standing in for a small part of itself ("one of many videos on YouTube"), and I like it.

You may also note in the sentence quoted that "spoiler" has in recent years become a verb--I use it all the time--meaning something similar to "spoil", but with a refinement of sense; it doesn't mean "ruin" as much as it very specifically means "ruin someone's enjoyment of a publication (book, movie, TV show, or the like) by revealing the ending", and by extension simply "to give away the ending to something". I really like this verb: it arose from an existing word ("spoiler", a noun meaning "the ending/punch line/plot twist to a publication, intended to be kept a secret from people who have not watched/read it") as a response to a perceived gap in the language, and that's exactly the way English is supposed to work.

Have I mentioned The Movie Spoiler and its cousin The Book Spoiler before? If you want to know how movies and books come out without actually having to experience them, you need this website. They're great.

There are two kinds of spoilers: those you want, and those you don't. Some douchey so-called friend wrecking the ending of "The Mist" when you intended to go see it this weekend? That, you don't want. A friend telling you how it comes out when you've read the novella and heard that the movie ends differently and want to know how but would never in a million years see the movie? Yes! The Movie Spoiler and The Book Spoiler are the second kind of friend.

Also, there are two kinds of spoilers: abbreviated ones, which just give you the ending ("He's dead and doesn't know it!"), and longer ones that recount the entire plot so as to set up the ending. The second one is the path I took when I spoilered the book version of "The Ruins" for you, so now you don't have to read it. I saw the trailer for the movie version this past weekend when I went to see "Sweeney Todd" (spoilered!), and they really seem to have changed a lot. Plus, it looks extremely unpleasant. It's bad enough to read these awful things, but to watch them? No thanks. I'll wait for the spoiler.


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