A couple of great Wondermark cartoons by David Malki ! (who spells his name with an exclamation point; “It’s considered an honorific, and used in the same manner as “Jr.” or “PhD”: there’s a single space before it”):
Is “pepper” something that adds pep?
I know the difference between Uralic and Altaic!
Needless to say, I find the last panel of the first one quite poignant. (Thanks, Sven!)


  1. Poignant indeed. And as a recovering usage snob, I’m also quite fond of this one.

  2. des von bladet says


  3. I’d no idea about ‘pepper’. I like ‘shockening powder’, that’s a word I hadn’t heard before. He seems very friendly.

  4. AJP, he’s having us on. From
    O.E. pipor, from an early W.Gmc. borrowing of L. piper, from Gk. piperi, probably (via Persian) from Middle Indic pippari, from Skt. pippali “long pepper.” The L. word is the source of Ger. Pfeffer, It. pepe, Fr. poivre, O.C.S. pipru, Lith. pipiras, O.Ir. piobhar, Welsh pybyr, etc. Application to fruits of the capsicum family (unrelated, originally native of tropical America) is 16c. The verb meaning “to sprinkle as with pepper” is from 1612. Peppermint is first attested 1696.

  5. For pep:
    “vigor, energy,” 1912, shortened form of pepper, which was used in the figurative sense of “spirit, energy,” from at least 1847. Peppy “full of pep,” first recorded 1922. Pep rally is attested from 1945; pep talk from 1926.
    (Sorry, this is originally from Etymology online. I’m currently unable to use Google as it is still blocked by the Chinese government, which meant that Etymology on-line didn’t come up as first choice, as it normally would with Google.)

  6. He is having us on, similarly “decision”, “decline” and “declaration” are of course not derived from “decimus”. But I suppose that’s obvious to anyone who posts here.

  7. marie-lucie says

    vanya: that’s obvious to anyone who posts here
    Nothing is ever obvious to everyone. We all learn from each other here.

  8. marie-lucie says

    It’s called “Adventures of the linguistics major”: obviously the linguistics major still has a lot to learn in his field.

  9. Which raises the question, where does the surname Pepper come from? Google tells us it comes from those who practice the trade of spicer

  10. Gosh. That’s a bit much. Thank you, Dressing Gown. I think that space after the exclamation mark is rather silly.
    I was going to look at his web site again, but I’ve changed my mind.

  11. He’s not going on my blogroll, either.

  12. For des von bladet – the difficulties of raising your child multilingual:

  13. des von bladet says

    Thanks, Anthony.
    (For the record, if we had a Tagalog-speaking maid we would be glad to raise little Boris and Egberdina trilingual.)

  14. Trond Engen says

    cheap celine bags: How is it that just anybody can create a blog and get as popular as this? Its not like youve said anything extremely impressive more like youve painted a quite picture more than an issue that you know nothing about! I dont want to sound mean, right here. But do you seriously think that you can get away with adding some quite pictures and not genuinely say anything?
    Ms. Bags doesn’t seem to understand that the rest of us are only here for the pictures.

  15. marie-lucie says

    Trond, he says that to every blog he tries to post on. Don’t pay attention!

  16. marie-lucie says

    I didn’t notice you had said “Ms. Bags”. Somehow I don’t think that was a woman. The name of the poster is just a brand name.

  17. Trond Engen says

    No, surely, only a honest poster would describe themself* as “cheap”.
    *) themself: It felt right with singular they. As if I had a feeling for singular they at all.

  18. only a honest poster would describe themself* as “cheap”
    If you choose to so interpret the name.
    *) themself : I have heard this here in Nova Scotia, so it must be part of local grammar, along with singular they. Of course the latter is used by millions of people when they are not “watching their language”.

  19. Anthony,
    In that last stript, that poor girl is demonstrating a surprisingly poor command of Russian grammar (should be “я голодна”). Filipino maids in Hong Kong apparently have trouble teaching Russian gender rules.

  20. Give the kid a break, she’s only sixteen months old!

  21. “Themself” is exactly right here, although “themselves” works too. Singular they is appropriate when the referent is indefinite, which is the case here.

  22. Speak for yourself, JC. Some of us are having trouble adjusting to this. In many ways it is possible to live too long in a culture that is changing constantly.
    On the other hand, some new things are easy to take. I cottoned on to ‘Say what?’ immediately, rude as it may be to some who hear it the first time.

  23. You don’t have to like it, Iakon; I myself would never use themself instead of themselves. But it is grammatical, and Trond’s Sprachgefühl was entirely correct.

  24. For reasons related to the pepper comic, my sister rarely believes anything I say.

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