The abbreviation for preposition is PREP; and if you replace the first and last letters by the preceding letter of the alphabet you get the name of a kind of cookie: OREO!
Can you think of another common grammatical term which yields the name of a common snack food when you replace the first and letters of its common abbreviation by the preceding letter of the alphabet, boys and girls?
No, of course you frigging can't. There isn't one. Listen, I'm going to tell you something I've never told anyone else before. I hate those stupid word puzzles that they have Will Shortz doing on National Public Radio every Sunday morning with a random listener over a bad phone line and Liane Hansen gets all nervous and giggly and sympathetic and tries to help out the listener if he turns out to be the kind of moron who is unable to achieve the marvellously useful and interesting feat of thinking up a name of a farm animal that begins with the same letter as a farm implement or something.
I suppose some people would imagine a grammarian is the sort of pointy-headed dweeb who would simply love to wake up on a Sunday morning to hear someone answer a series of questions about names of cities that sound like Latin names for ecclesiastical garments or two-word phrases for types of criminal activity where each word begins with the letter the other one ends with and then be told that since they got 3 out of 10 they will get an NPR lapel pin and a paperback college dictionary. Well those people would be dead wrong. I loathe word puzzles and when Liane Hansen introduces Will Shortz my arm twitches even if I'm asleep and my hand zaps over to the RADIO OFF button so fast that it makes a swooshing noise as it burns through the air. I couldn't give a monkey's fart about word puzzles. I couldn't...
The expressive power of human language is barely adequate to convey the profound level of apathy word puzzles provoke in me. I despise them. Actually Language Log is a bit too public a place for me to share the full visceral force of my reaction; ask me about them privately some time and I'll tell you how I really feel.Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at May 31, 2004 09:56 PM