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Jokeless Monday

It’s Monday and there’s no joke: Unable to set up a recording session the week before last, I left on vacation without supplying a video joke for this week. Apologies. The joke should return next Monday. In the meantime, your word for the week is craquelure.

What is a jink? From a reader: “I've never written you before, but had to today after seeing this headline in the Sports section: ‘Son of former NFL star is known for high jinks, intelligence’ What is a high jink? For that matter, what is a low jink?”

Jink is a verb meaning “to change direction suddenly and nimbly” and a noun meaning “a sudden quick change of direction,” the New Oxford American Dictionary says, going on to explain that the Scots high jinks, “denoting antics at drinking parties” is “probably symbolic of nimble motion.” Try a wee dram or two of the Balvenie and see what you can manage.

What he said: Arrant Pedantry has taken up the little essay on solecisms by David Bentley Hart and expresses, more succinctly and effectively in one post than I did in two, its misguidedness.

I’m not reopening the subject here. If you want to defend Dr. Hart, go there.

The beach: Now a pleasant but fading memory. Back to the paragraph factory tomorrow.



Posted by John McIntyre at 11:01 AM | | Comments (12)


The Balvenie? Back to Speyside, are we? Are you still a little shy about drinking bacon? As to high jinks, the sage Michael Quinion wrote about it, in similar terms, at his excellent site:

And if I can hark back to your words about the Western economies, he also has in his current postings a somewhat unpleasant few lines on "basket case" (an expression we can apparently quite justly blame on America):

Thanks for the link to Arrant Pedantry. He quotes James Milroy as saying, “Discussion is not part of the agenda of the prescriptive grammarian.”

I see this a lot in non-language peeving circles as well. In fact, you can substitute a number of other folks for "prescriptive grammarian" and you've identified the problem with the offerings of many experts and authorities. They don't recognize that others may have something worthwhile to offer on whatever the subject may be. At least they don't recognize that others may have a contrary point worth listening to; if you agree with them, they think you are very worth listening to (as long as you don't take too much time as they'd like to get back to saying it themselves, thank you very much).


Thanks for the link and for the kind words, John, though I'm not sure I want all the peevers headed my way. ;)

Not to be confused with "jinx."

Picky, on our recent vacation we toured the Highland Park distillery (which has the distinction of being the northern-most UK distillery). But after sampling many whiskys, we came home with a bottle of Scapa (less peaty, very aromatic). A wee dram is most pleasurable.

Cheers, Tim? Are you allowed to say that? And there was me thinking "Cheers" in that sense was a treasured BrE possession.

Oh well, cheers!


So you got to Orkney, Dahlink: how lucky you are! Highland Park I know, of course, but Scapa I've never experienced. But I shall - thank you for the recommendation.

Well Picky, since I am a proud recipient of the University of Sussex alumni magazine I will lay claim to "Cheers" when signing off, toasting or other appropriate occasion. Plus I'm rather a cheery guy. Jocular even.


Yes, Picky, we had the great pleasure of a few days in Orkney with very old friends who have retired there. We hope to go again some day. Let me know what you think of the Scapa--it was new to us.

Oh, I hadn't realised, Tim, that you'd been capngowned within these isles - apart from other millineries and gowneries I make no doubt. How excellent! Does that mean we can tax you?

Happily. Picky, I am not subject to such taxation since my studies did not result in a Sussex degree; it merely acted as a year between my undergrad studies here in the States and returning to begin law school. Apparently, though, one year of study was enough for them to put me on the lists for alumni fund raising drives.

Plus they address the dunning letters to "The Right Honorable", so I got that going for me.


And this is a good opportunity to mention that the University of Sussex, where Tim enjoyed the sea breezes while purporting to study during the pupal stage of his glittering legal career, is also the stomping ground of Dr Lynne Murphy, the American linguist who purveys the excellent blog Separated by a Common Language. Those who haven't visited it are recommended to do so.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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