Heel!

Minutes of a borough council meeting, quoted by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge in The Reader Over Your Shoulder, 1943:

Councillor Trafford took exception to the proposed notice at the entrance of South Park: “No dogs must be brought to this Park except on a lead.” He pointed out that this order would not prevent an owner from releasing his pets, or pet, from a lead when once safely inside the park.

The Chairman (Colonel Vine): What alternative wording would you propose, Councillor?

Councillor Trafford: “Dogs are not allowed in this Park without leads.”

Councillor Hogg: Mr. Chairman, I object. The order should be addressed to the owners, not to the dogs.

Councillor Trafford: That is a nice point. Very well then: “Owners of dogs are not allowed in this Park unless they keep them on leads.”

Councillor Hogg: Mr. Chairman, I object. Strictly speaking, this would prevent me as a dog-owner from leaving my dog in the back-garden at home and walking with Mrs. Hogg across the Park.

Councillor Trafford: Mr. Chairman, I suggest that our legalistic friend be asked to redraft the notice himself.

Councillor Hogg: Mr. Chairman, since Councillor Trafford finds it so difficult to improve on my original wording, I accept. “Nobody without his dog on a lead is allowed in this Park.”

Councillor Trafford: Mr. Chairman, I object. Strictly speaking, this notice would prevent me, as a citizen who owns no dog, from walking in the Park without first acquiring one.

Councillor Hogg (with some warmth): Very simply, then: “Dogs must be led in this Park.”

Councillor Trafford: Mr. Chairman, I object: this reads as if it were a general injunction to the Borough to lead their dogs into the Park.

Councillor Hogg interposed a remark for which he was called to order; upon his withdrawing it, it was directed to be expunged from the Minutes.

The Chairman: Councillor Trafford, Councillor Hogg has had three tries; you have had only two …

Councillor Trafford: “All dogs must be kept on leads in this Park.”

The Chairman: I see Councillor Hogg rising quite rightly to raise another objection. May I anticipate him with another amendment: “All dogs in this Park must be kept on the lead.”

This draft was put to the vote and carried unanimously, with two abstentions.

The “Un-Word”

Every year since 1991, a panel of German linguists has identified a term that violates human rights or infringes democratic principles:

1991: ausländerfrei (“free of foreigners”)
1992: ethnische Säuberung (“ethnic cleansing”)
1996: Rentnerschwemme (“flood of senior/retired citizens”)
1999: Kollateralschaden (“collateral damage”)
2005: Entlassungsproduktivität (“layoff productivity,” a surge in productivity induced by laying off workers)
2008: notleidende Banken (“suffering/needy banks”)
2014: Lügenpresse (“lying press”)
2019: Klimahysterie (“climate hysteria”)

The terms are usually German, but not always. In 1994 the word was peanuts, after Deutsche Bank’s chairman used that term to refer to 50 million Deutsche Marks.

Wikipedia has the whole list.

In a Word

epinician
adj. celebrating victory

rovery
n. an act of straying in thought

peripeteia
n. a sudden turn of events or an unexpected reversal

algedonic
adj. pertaining to both pleasure and pain

In the 1934 US Open Championship at Merion, Philadelphia, [Bobby Cruickshank] was leading after two rounds and going well in the third round. His approach to the 11th hole was slightly spared and to his dismay he saw the ball falling short into the brook which winds in front of the green.

The ball landed on a rock which was barely covered by water, rebounded high into the air and landed on the green. Cruickshank jubilantly tossed his club into the air, tipped his cap and shouted ‘Thank you, God.’ Further expressions of gratitude were cut short as the descending club landed on top of his head and knocked him out cold. He recovered his senses but not the impetus of his play and finished third.

— Peter Dobereiner, The Book of Golf Disasters, 1986

“Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den”

Chinese-American linguist Yuen Ren Chao composed this passage in classical Chinese; when read in modern Mandarin, every syllable has the sound “shi,” with only the tones differing.

In a stone den was a poet called Shi Shi, who was a lion addict, and had resolved to eat ten lions.
He often went to the market to look for lions.
At ten o’clock, ten lions had just arrived at the market.
At that time, Shi had just arrived at the market.
He saw those ten lions, and using his trusty arrows, caused the ten lions to die.
He brought the corpses of the ten lions to the stone den.
The stone den was damp. He asked his servants to wipe it.
After the stone den was wiped, he tried to eat those ten lions.
When he ate, he realized that these ten lions were in fact ten stone lion corpses.
Try to explain this matter.

Aaron Posehn gives an explanation, including the full text in Chinese, here.

(Thanks, Brad.)

Borrowed Gold

Eunoia is a dictionary of more than 500 untranslatable (or obscurely useful) words:

tsundoku: acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one’s home without reading them (Japanese)
sankocha: the feeling of embarrassment due to receiving an inordinate or extravagant gift, making you feel as though you need to return a favor that you can’t (Kannada)
mudita: the pleasure that comes from delighting in other people’s well-being or happiness (Sanskrit)
Erbsenzähler: literally “pea counter”: a nitpicker (German)
jayus: a joke so unfunny that one has to laugh (Indonesian)
házisárkány: “indoor dragon”: a nagging, restless spouse (Hungarian)
tretår: a third cup of coffee (Swedish)
xiao xiao: the whistling and pattering of rain or wind (Chinese)

There’s a whole subreddit for these.

(Thanks, Sharon.)

Dear Sirs

Here’s a letter that might have been received by the Restormel County Council. What’s unusual about it?

Dear Sirs:

I shed no tears to learn that the hill in Mansion Road, close to most locals’ homesteads, is at last considered at least a minor threat to residents in the area. At times in the cold season the ice created on this road is a colossal attraction to the local children. Some slither and slide on the ice on sleds, tin sheets, etc, to their hearts’ content, and create concerns to motorists, and others in the area, in the colder months. It is nice to see that this matter is at last in hand, to note its consideration as an essential element in Restormel’s schemes to decrease the district’s road accidents.

A Contented Resident.

Click for Answer

Pangrammatic Loops

A marvelous variation on self-inventorying lists, from the inimitable Lee Sallows:

Recalling that a self-enumerating pangram corresponds to a closed loop of length 1, here follows a loop of length 2, which is to say, a pair of pangrams that enumerate each other. The pangrams are both minimal in the sense of containing none but essential letters with no “and”s or other devices openly or surreptitously added.

ONE A, ONE B, ONE C, ONE D, THIRTYONE E, FOUR F, ONE G, FIVE H, FIVE I, ONE J, ONE K, ONE L, ONE M, TWENTYTWO N, SEVENTEEN O, ONE P, ONE Q, SEVEN R, FOUR S, ELEVEN T, THREE U, FIVE V, FOUR W, ONE X, THREE Y, ONE Z.

ONE A, ONE B, ONE C, ONE D, THIRTYTWO E, SEVEN F, ONE G, FOUR H, FIVE I, ONE J, ONE K, TWO L, ONE M, TWENTY N, NINETEEN O, ONE P, ONE Q, SEVEN R, THREE S, NINE T, FOUR U, SEVEN V, THREE W, ONE X, THREE Y, ONE Z.

An alternative (non-minimal) pair includes plural s’s:

ONE A, ONE B, ONE C, ONE D, TWENTYSEVEN E’S, SIX F’S, ONE G, THREE H’S, SIX I’S, ONE L, TWENTY N’S, SIXTEEN O’S, ONE P, ONE Q, SIX R’S, NINETEEN S’S, TWELVE T’S, FOUR U’S, FOUR V’S, FIVE W’S, THREE X’S, FOUR Y’S, ONE Z.

ONE A, ONE B, ONE C, ONE D, TWENTYNINE E’S, FIVE F’S, ONE G, THREE H’S, SEVEN I’S, ONE J, ONE K, TWO L’S, ONE M, TWENTY N’S, SIXTEEN O’S, ONE P, ONE Q, SIX R’S, TWENTY S’S, TEN T’S, FOUR U’S, THREE V’S, FOUR W’S, FIVE X’S, THREE Y’S, ONE Z.

In similar vein, pangrammatic loops of length 3 follow, but now in shorthand, using arabic numerals to stand for number words, i.e. 1 = one, 2 = two, etc. The first list is enumerated by the second, the second by the third and the third by the first. The 1st loop contains minimal pangrams, the 2nd, pangrams with plural s’s:

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z
1  1  1  1 31  5  1  5  9  1  1  1  1 20 16  1  1  5  5 11  1  4  3  4  2  1
1  1  1  1 28  7  1  3  8  1  1  2  1 20 18  1  1  5  2  8  3  6  3  2  3  1
1  1  1  1 31  2  5  9  7  1  1  1  1 16 15  1  1  5  3 16  1  3  6  2  3  1

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z
1  1  1  1 32  5  2  3  7  1  1  1  1 22 18  1  1  3 19 14  2  6  7  2  3  1
1  1  1  1 32  3  2  6  6  1  1  1  1 20 18  1  1  6 19 16  2  4  7  2  3  1
1  1  1  1 27  2  2  5  8  1  1  1  1 19 17  1  1  5 21 14  2  2  6  5  3  1

Here also a minimal pangrammatic loop of length 4 (no equivalent using plural s’s exists):

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z
1  1  1  1 25  4  2  4  7  1  1  2  1 16 18  1  1  5  5 11  3  4  5  4  2  1
1  1  1  1 28  9  2  3  7  1  1  2  1 16 18  1  1  6  3  9  5  7  5  2  2  1
1  1  1  1 30  3  3  5  9  1  1  1  1 20 15  1  1  3  5 12  1  5  6  3  2  1
1  1  1  1 30  6  1  6  8  1  1  2  1 17 14  1  1  6  2 12  1  5  4  2  3  1

“There exist no minimal pangrammatic loops of length 5 or longer until we reach lengths 10, 33, and 55 (no plural s’s) and lengths 15, 22, 23, 207 and 312 (with plural s’s),” he adds. “This completes what I believe to be an exhaustive survey of all self-enumerating minimal pangrammatic loops.”

(Thanks, Lee.)

Truth in Advertising

Another feat of self-reference — reader Hans Havermann devised these true sentences:

“The odds of randomly picking four letters from this statement and having them be F, O, U, and R, are two out of two hundred nineteen thousand six hundred eighty-seven.”

“The odds of randomly picking four letters from this statement and having them be F, O, U, and R, are three out of two hundred ninety-two thousand nine hundred sixteen.”

These two are in lowest terms. He has seven more.

(Thanks, Hans.)