or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Saturday, October 18, 2008


There are a couple of recent articles in Slate that you'll enjoy.

First, a piece on some new books about the English language; it makes me want to go out and buy them (or at least order them from Amazon).

Second, an amusing piece on the word "fail" and its encroachment into the vocabulary as a noun meaning "failure", often used in a very idiosyncratic way, as in "You are full of fail!" or "Epic fail!" when someone has done something particularly stupid or egregious. (The opposite of "fail" in this context is not "success" but "win".)

However, the piece ends with the prediction that "fail" is going to hang around for a while because it's useful and already exists in everyone's vocabulary. The final sentence of the piece:

In other words, "fail" will win.

Now, really. Has the author not been paying attention? I'd have written "Fail has a win", or "Fail FTW!" (which means "for the win"), or "Fail is full of win"--something, anything, in the hyper-modern, text-messagey style in which "fail" is currently used.

Here are a couple of bits from Failblog, both relevant to my usual line of attack, that I was trying to figure out how to incorporate into a posting; this is as good a time as any.


Blogger joeclark said...

FAIL seems more comparable to late-1980s NOT! in that it negates every aspect of whatever it refers to, no matter how elaborate. That’s why the elder statesmen of Slate cannot understand it, of course; it’s ungentlemanly to be dismissed with a single word. Unless, I suppose, it’s DISMISSED.

Saturday, October 18, 2008 2:12:00 PM  
Blogger pyramus said...


You're right that "fail" is the new millennium's "Not!", with one exception (to state the obvious): "Not!" was applied by yourself, to yourself, while "fail" is thrown at other people. Same basic idea, though; a quick, biting putdown.

Saturday, October 18, 2008 8:04:00 PM  

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