back to article Verity Stob and the super subjunction

Just downloaded the beta version of English V3.31, and I have to say I am very excited about it. This is definitely going to be a feather in the cap of Anglophones everywhere, and way better than the notorious V2.99 release of French (or the 'deux point neufty-neuf' as it has become known). There's a ton of new features to talk …


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  1. Richard Jukes

    Not funny.

    Take this old nag out back and show her the kindness we all deserve in our final dying days.

    1. Mystic Megabyte

      @Richard Jukes

      I thought it was very funny but maybe the whisky I drank last night is still in my brain.

      What annoys me is that last year everybody was saying "At the end of the day" instead of "ultimately". This year, even on radio 4, everyone says "gonna" instead of "going to". What's going on?

    2. grumpyguts

      And you could do better?

      Those that can do, those that can't moan about it on the interweb.

    3. Jon Double Nice

      The bit about

      English becoming dynamically typed is awesome!

    4. Anonymous Coward

      @ Richard Dukes

      Wow...that's some impressive down-voting you've accumulated going for a record?

      1. Francis Boyle

        More downvotes

        than there are comments in the thread is certainly an impressive achievement.

    5. Hungry Sean

      oh, do fuck off.

      Stob articles are a rare and wonderous treat. Go crawl back under your bridge.

    6. Trixr

      What is the remedy

      ...for humourless sexist w*nkers? ???? ?????

  2. Pete Wood
    Thumb Up

    Very funny

    Spot on. Or as Verity would probably want me to say it, having not fully upgraded myself: Like !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Thomas 4

      Very funny but sadly all too true

      And once again, the English, kneels to the service of l33t-speeking teens as would a $10 hooker.

    2. Squarebob Spongepants


      Shouldn't that be Like !!!!! !!!!! !!!

      1. Martin

        ...or even....

        Spot. On.

        Isn't there a Parameterised Emphatic Period?

        Best. ${item}. Evvah.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Best. Punctuation. Upgrade. Evar.

          Truly epic when combined with the parameterised cliché.

          Well. done. Martin.

      2. Diane Miller


        Would it properly be !!!!! !!!!! !!! or !!! !!!!! !!!!! ????? ????? ?????

  3. frank ly

    Ponderingly ...

    " ... which aimed to differentiate better between .."

    I have a feeling that this should be ' ... which aimed to better differentiate between ... '

    (It's arguable, I know.)

    1. GrahamT

      Churlish, I know,

      but "to better differentiate" is a split infinitive. The original reads better. (Or should that be ... "better reads"?/2)

  4. lawndart

    Hang on

    Is gerund a verb, now?

    1. John Gamble

      Re: Hang on

      Depends upon whether it's obscene or not.


  5. Anonymous Coward

    Fine words indeed

    And needed to be said.

    However, you left out the dreaded "defensive reply scenario" which may have come in at version 2.98. The expected reply to the trivia introductory question on health, "How are you" is, if in the affirmative, "I am well." However, the defensive approach currently in vogue is to justify one's prior behaviour with a pre-emptive "I am good," which removes the onus on the first party to continue on to qualitative questioning, while leaving the health issue in abeyance.

    1. breakfast Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Health issue?

      I had always assumed this was raising the tone from a question about mere physical bodies to a discussion of the moral character of the questionee.

    2. Tim99 Silver badge

      Colonial English

      Probably as a result of climate and distance, we in Oz have found it necessary to subjugate existential angst by defining a universal function that always returns the string constant:

      "It's all good mate!"

      Beer, obviously.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Missing feature?

    Im obviously not keeping up to date because I seem to have missed the upgrade which includes or rather excludes any sort of punctuation whatsoever I mean stuff like that right there where I missed out a full stop and a comma and that's not all did you see where i just missed out the capital and the dash? i could keep going like this purely to demonstrate the non-use of paragraphs as well but I think my point is made oh and I won't be using full stops either naturally but I think ill skip the part where I use of the above as well as CAPITALS and completely stop using apostrophes correct too naturally i got an a in GCSE english can you tell?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      ˙˙˙ʇı ǝpɐɯ ʇsoɯןɐ

      ...but failed on '?'

      1. Anonymous Coward


        You're right. My daughter will be so ashamed.

    2. Mike VandeVelde
      Thumb Up

      commas and periods only

      anything else and, well, youre just being frilly.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Asymptotically approaching perfection

    Well, that made my week a good one! I have no idea what can be going through the minds of those who say they didn't like this article - my only guess would be "not enough". It's unusual to find anyone who is equally at home in the disparate worlds of computing and literature, but to come across someone who can blend the two to create side-splittingly funny wit... well, we don't deserve Verity, but I am grateful for her. Thank you, God.

    1. henchan

      Here here

      'tis good to see Verity back and in superb form.

      The top of the linked Wiki on Currying, being close to her style of wit, leads me to suspect she must be always chuckling as she goes about her daily business.

      "It was invented by Moses Schönfinkel and later re-invented by Haskell Curry; because of this, some say it would be more accurate to name it schönfinkeling."

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Really good

    Double-heart plus one!

  9. Simon Rockman

    The missing glyph

    What the English language is missing is a semi-query. A question mark which instead of having a full stop underneath has a comma.

    1. David Pollard


      Would this, then, be for questions the answer to which might appropriately be only half-right?

      1. Thecowking

        I can see a use for it

        You'd use it when putting forth statements you weren't sure were true or not and seeking verification.

        "Today is the deadline for that report?,"

        I mean yes you could just use the normal question mark and everyone would know what you meant, but where's the fun in that?

      2. Munchausen's proxy

        Ever heard an athlete interviewed?

        It would be perfect for the interjected 'you know'.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      IT Angle

      Useful for semi-questions?

      We could use for those sentences that aren't questions? The ones that are spoken with a rising inflection at the end? Those which more self-confident folk would teminate with a brusque full-stop?

  10. Stern Fenster

    @Richard Jukes

    Personally, I found it funny without benefit of whisky. It's as if you have a down on linguistic practicality.

    Ah no, sorry: It's *like* you have a down on linguistic etc. "As if" is now a standalone with a quite different usage.

    And hey, can we bring back public floggings for people misusing "parameter"? (it does NOT mean "perimeter", you scumbrils. "Within the parameters" is COMPLETELY EFFING MEANINGLESS).

    1. adrianww


      "within the parameters" is perfectly fine and has a very sound and proper meaning when used correctly. It's just incorrect usage of the phrase that presents a problem - particularly if that involves someone confusing parameter with perimeter (Egad!)

    2. Chris Miller


      And there is a special circle of hell (at least, there is in the one I'm planning to build) reserved for all those (including most of the reporting staff of the BBC) who don't understand the word 'epicentre'. I don't expect everyone to know the correct meaning, but using a word you clearly don't understand instead of the more mundane 'centre' merely because you think it makes you sound more intelligent ...

      (Although I see Webster's now includes this usage as a secondary definition. Ah well, there goes the neighborhood.)

  11. Richard Jukes


    Indeed those that cant moan on the interweb. Obviously this article only appeals to spelling and grammar nazi pedants. Im sorry, but I think I have only EVER found ONE article by this author funny, and even then it was only mildly funny.

    1. Martin

      A useful piece of advice....

      The front page contains the title of the article, the summary and the name of the author. This is useful information, and should be noted carefully before clicking.

      In future, refrain from clicking on the articles labelled "Stob". Then you won't feel it necessary to tell us you don't like them.

    2. Kubla Cant

      @Richard Jukes

      A troll, and not a very subtle one.

      First you gratuitously slag off a witty article. Then you add a post that bundles together illiteracy, shift-key abuse, and Godwin's law.

      The mystery is why you bother.

  12. Captain Hogwash

    I am good

    When some peasant gives that reply I inform them that it is likely to stand them in good stead if there is an afterlife. Then I ask if they are well.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Do they respond with this?

      I am well good. Innit?*

      *I assume that the question mark is correct here, although the half-question mentioned above with comma might well be designed for this role.

  13. hugo tyson

    Hot news indeed!

    I thought Julie was down at the chip shop.... with Gordon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Esteis

    We all eagerly await the next installment

    I, for one, am raring to learn how ~~;^ is rearranged to summarize that Punch cartoon.

  15. Spoobistle

    -ue eeuwwe

    Sorry, -ue is reserved for Frenchisement, as in Dogue de Bordeaux, a slobbery great canine from the land of cheese eating surrender monkeys. Apparently they are really very gentle. You hardly feel a whole leg slipping into their jaws. E.g. Ma dogue is as thicque as twue short planques.

  16. Alan Ferris

    I am good

    The correct response, which I have used for a number of years, is

    "I am breathtaking, thank you"

  17. ardubbleyu

    I am...

    a cunning linguist...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Best one for ages!


    Yes, that was deliberate.

    British English: the potency of this perversion of logic and English is such that I've rejected software purely because of its use.

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Yep ...

      ... the only modifier I allow regarding the language spoken in Britain is "proper".

  19. David Dawson

    Split infinitive

    Here we go.

    Split infinitives really are fine. English it not latin, which is where this crazy idea came from (latin educated peeps, that is. Or so the story goes)

    To boldy go is, in fact, grammatically correct.

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it you crazy grammarians.

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart


      Or as Winston Churchill said "A load of rubbish up which I will not put"

      1. GrahamT


        Winston Churchill was belittling the rule that sentences should not end with a preposition, such as "That is a load of rubbish, which I will not put up with."

        Of course, he could have said "I will not put up with that load of rubbish" but that wouldn't have got him into the dictonaries of quotations.

    2. Michael Dunn

      Split Inginitive?

      Hey, just a minute, the Latin infinitive does not consist of two words, so cannot be split.

      1. Kubla Cant

        Latin English*

        It was, so it is said, because the Latin infinitive could not be split that they decided the English one should not be. Thereby inconsistent seeming, they the word order English unchanged oddly left.

        *Latin English - a tango danced with bells on your knees and flowers on your hat, while waving hankies.

  20. John Arthur

    Are you alright there?

    My currently most hated phrase (see above). I get it when I enter a shop or a pub and the only correct answer, which I have on occasion given, is "No, I am certainly not alright. I am waiting for you to serve me when you have finished discussing boyfriends/babies/botox with your colleague."

    What happened to "Can I help you?" or "What can I do for you?"?

    You see what I did there with the question marks?

    Mine is the one with Gower's "Complete Plain Words" in the pocket.

    The icon 'cos something I wrote above reminded me of beer.....

    1. spiny norman


      At the other end of the transaction you get "There you go.". No I don't. I'll go when I'm ready and I'm definitely not going over there.

      "If you would like to remove your card"

      What happened to the rest of the sentence? Why do I have to like removing my card? If I don't like removing it, does it make any difference?

      1. GrahamT

        My personal bugbear... a customer in a restaurant ordering their food by prefixing the item with "Can I get ...?", to which the response from the waiter/waitress should be "No, I get it, you just tell me what you want."

        Both my (grown up) children use this, and it makes me cringe each time I hear it.

  21. vonBureck

    And the award for the best use of Chaucer in an IT-related work of literature goes to...

    Stob, FTWly. Cheerse!

  22. Frederic Bloggs

    I think you mean..

    Anisotropic, not thixotropic. I.e. the metophor gets thicker, stickier and more opaque the more one stirs it. But otherwise, spot on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    1. Pierre Castille

      Not Anisotropic...

      rheopexic, to be pedantic.

  23. Richard Pennington 1

    @Frederick Bloggs; @Verity

    @Frederick - Not sure what word you were after, but "anisotropic" probably isn't it (unless you mean that its properties are different in different directions).

    @Verity - You probably meant "hordes", not "hoards" (unless you have got lots of them stashed away somewhere).

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Not recommended

    > hoards of peevish academics

    Hoarding of peevish academics is not recommended, they spoil easily, like cucumbers.

  25. Francis Boyle


    English is only at 3.31. If Linux can get to 3.0 after just twenty years I would expect English with a thousand years under its belt to do a bit better than that. Admittedly, it took several hundred years for Shakespeare to single-handedly bring it up to 1.0 standard but then he only had a quill and assorted pieces of parchment - haven't things sped up a little since then.

    1. Harvey Trowell
      Big Brother

      Au contraire, Frankie

      In fact the first several hundred version releases were labelled using a bizarre legacy system, the origins of which remain shrouded in the mists of time, ending around the time of the Crusades with DCLXVI. Numbering systems based on stoats, goats and groats followed, later incorporating fractions and becoming increasingly unwieldy until version stoat with groat over double goat was thankfully redesignated version 1.0 with the arrival of decimalisation in February 1971. The first point version came later the same year when Slade hit number one with Coz I Luv You and 2.0 was defiantly announced in 1984 to celebrate the non-arrival of Newspeak. That's what I learnt at school last week anyway.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More. Stob. Please.


  27. nyelvmark
    Thumb Up

    sex is the new golf

    You are Tiger Woods and I claim my gold-plated putter. Actually, anything of value will do, whoever you are.

  28. Christopher Key.
    Thumb Up


    Please, world, cease this arse-witted usage of adjectives in the place of adverbs!

    It seems to be a specific affectation of sports pundits,

    He played good.

    He passed brilliant.

    Arghh !!!!! !!!!! !!!

  29. Anonymous Coward


    Can I suggest that English v3.5 allows for the omissions of both the definite and indefinite article. This mode of speech was pioneered by Apple, for example:

    Buy (an) iPhone. Worship (the) iPhone. (The) iPhone has self-immolated.

    Surely such a reduction in verbosity (and unbearable level of cutesiness) is to be welcomed to the language.

    1. Chris Jakeman

      Articles again

      Good point.

      "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" is a brilliant science fiction story (1966 Robert Heinlein) which does not use "the" except in the title.

      According to Wikipedia, this was to reflect the impact on language from the large number of Russian deportees to the moon. "the" does not exist in most Slavic languagues.

      1. Intractable Potsherd
        Thumb Up

        You are right, it doesn't.

        It makes proof-reading my wife's formal documents before they are sent off a real pain. She has absolutely no idea of when to use "the" as opposed to "a", or even if either is to be used. The difference between "until" and "by" is a complete mystery to her, as well.

        Regardless, her English is still better than my ability to talk in her national version of the Slavic noise.

  30. J. Cook Silver badge

    Ah, Ye Olde English...

    Well played, and quite funny to boot.

  31. Mr Ian

    Heare. Heare.


  32. John F***ing Stepp

    Yes I will take my (not the face, not the face) fries with catsup.

    I thought it was funny but then this is the Register and nor am I out of it.

    Hey, we get to use this little fellow.


  33. Eugene Crosser

    (+ 1)

    for lambda calculus

  34. Atilla the Hun (No relation)


    I'll have a pint of whatever the author was on at the time. Purely to aid comprehension of course.

  35. Kristian Walsh Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Advisory: noun "question" now deprecated

    Following successful trials in sports journalism, we are pleased to announce the adoption of "question mark" as the preferred form of the noun "question".

    Old: There's certainly a question about the ...

    New: There's certainly a question mark about the..

    The new form is a drop-in replacement, with no need to modify surrounding sentence structure. Also, as an added security feature, use of this form will reduce the chance of accidentally disseminating sensitive information, as speakers are unlikely to reach the end of their sentences before listener-driven high momentum fist/face interfacing renders them incapable of further speech.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Regarding splitting infinitives

    Recently, I came across a blog post ( that makes a good case for splitting infinitives being acceptable in English.

    Nonetheless, a nice, well written post. :)

  37. maw140

    RE: Splitting infinitives

    I recently read a <a href="">blog post</a> that makes a case for the "Never Split Inifinitives" rule being a myth. Although the post does conclude that it is such a pervasive myth that you should not split infinitives willy nilly, if it could upset people.

    All in all, a nice post.

  38. Kubla Cant


    I can't miss a rare opportunity to get a linguistic bugbear dancing. People in shops, call centres and the like have a strong aversion to the second person pronoun, and will say things like "Is everything all right for yourself?", or "We will send the form to yourself for signature."

    It may be fanciful, but I think this is the related to the mysterious force that eradicated "thou" in English and gave rise to "tu-vous", "du-Sie", and the even odder "tu-Lei-voi". It's apparently found in all Indo-European languages.

  39. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "Thixotropic" is correct

    Paints and "multi-grade" car lubricating oils have this property.

    Stiff and resistant to motion at low speeds (IE dripping down a wall) but easy to move when move at high speed.

    The English equivalent would be something that *seems* to make perfect sense spoken (at normal speed) but is actually rubbish when read.

  40. Oblivion62

    Did nobody else notice...

    "...hoards of peevish academics" I suppose /could/ be correct as written, but I'm almost certain that what the otherwise impeccable Ms Stob meant to type was "...hordes of peevish etc." Although I grant that the concept of thousands of academics, gallumphing towards one across a convenient steppe, waving laser pointers and clad in their trademark battle tweed is such an unlikely image that perhaps, after all, the image of a large, hidden cellar full of dusty desks is more reasonable.

    What's that? Tired? Oh well, that's completely understandable.

    (And I always treasured pTerry's assertion that the use of multiple exclamation marks is a sign of a sick mind.)

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