December 16, 2003

Pickle jinxed blogging?

I'm wondering whether jinxing, even pickle jinxing, applies to blogging as opposed to talking. Hope not, because Language Log would be a sadder and a quieter space without Mark. But look, if it does apply, surely the jinx can be dissolved by emailing the victim's name to him? Mark! Mark! Mark!

Perhaps you can even stockpile tokens of your name and keep them in files to open later. Or have your name said to you once per second by a shell script for permanent immunity:

      while ( 1 == 1 )
        echo 'Mark!'
        sleep 1

I don't think jinxing is going to be the same in the Information Age.

[Mark: "Sorry, Geoff, it's only naming by the jinxer that dissolves the jinx! The role of the jinxee's friends is to trick the jinxer into saying the name. Opinion is divided about whether the jinx extends to writing -- the crucial precedents were apparently established in kindergarten, when hardly anyone could write anyhow."]

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at December 16, 2003 01:25 PM