Wacky Words: Alas, I Digress

Another place you'll see ALAS and DIGRESS

Today’s going to be a short one, folks, but something that’s made me go “huh” for a long time: Are there certain words and phrases we only use in writing?

Of course, there’s jargon and the occasional formal term (especially legal) that don’t typically occur in spoken conversation, but I’m talking about ordinary, everyday English, and not words that have simply fallen out of use – they’re just not used verbally.

One such word is alas. I can’t remember the last time I heard someone say “alas,” or even if I’ve ever heard it. It’s not obsolescent; I’ve seen it in written form far more than I’d like. The same is probably true for any writer who’s tried the query-coaster of submitting work to publishers, agents or magazines, as the most common use for “alas” seems to be on the lines of, “Alas, we regret that this doesn’t meet our current needs.” Which is probably why “alas” is a word I’m not particularly fond of. 🙂

Another word – or phrase, rather – that I see written often, but seldom hear, is “but I digress.” Bloggers digress a lot! I try not to, but I’m sure I do. I just don’t tell you about it. 😀 Digression happens on a regular basis while eating lunch with my coworkers. No one ever acknowledges it.

Can you think of other ordinary words that you see often in written form, but hardly ever hear spoken? Curious minds want to know!

Dictionary photo by Dr. Marcus Gossler via wikipedia.org, Creative Commons license

Wacky Words: So When did Google Become a Verb?

My husband invented a new verb today: Cozi. As in, “I won’t forget anything at the store, because I cozied it.”

cozi screenshot

Cozi is a noun - a great, online organizer. Did you know it's also a verb?

Cozi is a free, online organizer, and it’s awesome. It lets you set up a shared, family calendar so everyone knows when the kid’s music lessons are, what days Dad has to work (my husband’s hours are irregular), and when the critters need to be taken to the vet. Cozi also lets you set up To-Do lists, Shopping lists, and add things to a family journal. So if I think of a writing-related task I need to do while I’m at work, I can log on to the Cozi website and add it to my To-Do list. Even better, I can do this on my smartphone with the Cozi app, if I’m out and about, and not on my computer. No more worries about an unexpected chance to stop at the store, and forgetting something – it’s on Cozi.

Having worked in a marketing department for close to ten years in my previous life as a graphic designer, I’m probably more cognizant than most people of the proper, and not-so-proper use of trademarked names. While I’ve been guilty of asking for a Kleenex when the box clearly reads “Puffs,” I’ve never Xeroxed anything on a copier made by Konica-Minolta, and here in Ohio, a Coke is always Coca-cola (though I have ordered rum and Coke from a bar that served Pepsi products, because no one orders a “rum and cola”). I try not to cringe when someone mentions a “Romantica” novel that wasn’t published by Ellora’s Cave, or talks about making their own “book trailer.” Those are trademarked terms: if the book wasn’t published by EC, it’s simply erotic romance (or romantic erotica), and that book video is only a book trailer if it was produced by Circle of Seven Productions. Don’t even get me started on “iPhone” – I have a Droid, thankyouverymuch. My husband has an Android phone – his runs the Android OS, but it’s not a Droid-branded phone. Only Apple smartphones are iPhones.

So it follows when someone says they “googled” something on the Internet, I always got just a teeny bit annoyed. Because my understanding was that “Google” is a noun – a trademarked, proper noun at that. And what if the person was using Yahoo or Bing? (I know, I know, does anyone? Someone must, or else they wouldn’t still be around.)

After my husband’s turning Cozi into a verb, I was curious about that other, insidious noun-that’s-not-really-a-verb and decided to google the term “google.” Guess what – it’s in the dictionary. As a trademarked, proper noun… and a verb.

The Xerox corporation has made no secret of the fact that they’d much rather you photocopy, rather than Xerox, those tax papers for your mortgage processor, but in Google’s quest for Internet search domination, they have no problem with people googling stuff on the Internet. They’d much rather you google something than yahoo or bing it.

So it looks like I have to get over that one. As for Cozi? I’m glad my husband’s willing to use it (he’s not too fond of computers), so I think I’ll just quietly let him cozi whatever he wants.

Know of any funny verbs that aren’t really verbs? Or words you thought were only nouns, but actually are verbs? Please share!