I am Become Google, Destroyer of Worlds

Those who remember the old days might recall that sometimes I would compile a list of unusual search phrases that have brought people to these pages. What follows is a list I started quite some time ago, but either I’m getting more jaded or the number of wacky phrases people are finding me with is dropping. Fried Egg queries are still the most popular, but I’ve been letting the culinary pages gather dust, which lowers their attractiveness in Google’s eyes. That doesn’t really bother me. Still, when I take the trouble to look over the various ways people stumble across these pages, I have to chuckle. Here, then, is a list of some search phrases that have caught my eye, and (usually) a link to the place in the blog that fateful string brought them.

On another note, the phrase I bastardized for the title of this episode is more interesting than I ever suspected. Apparently, “I am become time…” is an equally valid translation. In context it makes sense. A God is trying to convince some schmoe to go for the glory, and pointing out that since in the long term he will be forgotten no matter what happens, he has nothing to lose. Bitchin’. Meanwhile, on with the show!

  • bily bear meat – Linked to an episode about czech hockey, of course.
  • wm byrne pub kilkenny – linked to an episode about our stay in that congenial place.
  • piker list of stupid – top hit, baby! When it comes to stupid, I’m very highly ranked.
  • fivepin bowling 5 pin approach video online – far more interesting than the idea of some guy knocking all the pins over, is a bunch of guys knocking all but the 5-pin down, while team bowling.
  • kicked in the balls+girl – no longer sure where it linked to on this site, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to meet that girl.
  • Cost of Trip to Giant’s Causeway – whatever it costs, it’s worth it!
  • carl sagan trampoline gravity – linked, of course, to a particularly extreme get-poor-quick scheme.
  • All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku bathroom – bathroom? It seems odd until you remember that the bathroom stall is an elevator to the evil meeting room.
  • humped his sweater – brought the unsuspecting googlist to the Stories category page, where a Werewolf’s bad manners are discussed.
  • Deanna Mac Guinness – apparently I’m the only one at homepage.mac.com/ that Yahoo found any mention of Guiness and Deanna.
  • easy steps to sketch a large cowboy hatThe Cowboy God pulls in another one looking for something else.
  • writing essays with modern language ass. – I’m not sure how modern my language ass is, but I have some thoughts on the subject.
  • car accidents 395 adelanto – they’re not pretty.
  • Neurotic writers – Not surprisingly, I have some thoughts on that as well.
  • bosom machine – Ahh… bosoms. Though a mechanical one doesn’t sound as appealing.
  • jer’s novel writer for windows – doesn’t exist. Trust me.
  • Budvar Bar – there are many, but this is my favorite.
  • reggie wanker – John and I were recently lamenting that that movie is still not available on DVD.
  • why does bud light kill you? – it can only hurt you if you drink it. Don’t.
  • what do u learn when u study graphic designMuddled U starts attracting potential students!
  • ho does one save if earning 9000 – brought the searcher to, of all places, the Get Poor Quick category page.
  • glenwood cutoff – one of Google’s top matches brings people to the heart of suicidal squirrel territory.
  • post graduate degree course for someone who doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree – Muddled University again!
  • tom carruthers glendale ohio – someone was digging deeper into the insidious infiltration of the squirrels, and the humans who have betrayed us. We were here to help.
  • EDDIE ROCKETS – I’m glad that someone in the UK took the trouble to look past the first nineteen google results to land on my appraisal of the rather awful place.
  • how to fix a yoyo ball when it is broken in half – Muddled Ramblings was one of the top matches, despite the lack of yoyo’s
  • Nightmare Jer – surprisingly, was not my ex-wife searching. Whoever it was, ended up reading about a rather unpleasant flight I took recently.
  • one toe itches more so at night? – I hope they found a cure for that.
  • women in the great gatsby literary criticism – linked to my brief discussion of a pretty dang good book.
  • bagel rhymes – not just for breakfast anymore.
  • secret evil bunny labs – brought the searcher to the Rumblings category page.
  • cuttlefish for birds blister card – that almost makes sense until you get to the word ‘card’. Cuttlefish-man to the rescue!
  • cowboy holding coffee table – The Cowboy God pulls in another lost soul.
  • glad commercial, robbing bank – hey, I could have been in that, except I wasn’t very good.
  • Eddie Bauer fishing rod – all right! My open letter to Eddie Bauer is starting to attract attention.

12 thoughts on “I am Become Google, Destroyer of Worlds

  1. “I am become…” is an odd expression to me, because we are all used to using the word “have” instead of “am.”
    You have Language log lonked over on your side bar. A place I love is World Wide Words. It is a newsletter and a website.
    I had an interesting experience once of reading American Prometheus (bio of J robert oppenheimer) where of course they have to mention his famous muttering – upon watching the Trinity test – of the phrase from Bhavagad Gita, “I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds;” and then back-to-back reading the Annotated Hobbit where there is a point in Tolkien’s story (around either the giant spiders or the trolls, can’t remember) where Bilbo says, “I am become…”
    Zounds, in short order, I had run across this curious phraseology used twice. What is the history of subsituting am for have? Why is it used at all?
    I sent off a question about it to World Wide Words, but never got an answer.
    It is a lonely life being interested in things mortals aren’t. Sigh, sometimes I wish I wasn’t so superior.

  2. That usage is a carryover from the past, when have was used with the past participle with active words (as is the usage today), but be was used with the past participle with linking verbs, in particular when the predicate renames the subject of the sentence. (That is still the case in some languages, such as French.)

    Somehow, over the years, have came to be used with all past participles. Maybe we all got a bit lazy trying to figure out whether what we had was a linking verb with a subject complement.

  3. Thanks CA. What an interesting explanation. Can you give some examples of the two instances?
    It is nice to have your expertise, which also begs the question – where did you get it?
    In high school I did not take AP english, tho I ‘m not saying that is where you picked all this up.
    I had a striking experience of going off to NM State and feeling smug about having attended the ‘smartest’ school in the state. Aside from math and science, I was blown out of the water by the literature knowledge of the ‘albuquerque-ites’. It has already been discussed in these comments about how we only had to read the first section of The once and future king. As far as grammar, I vaguely remember a disagreeable, fatish, bored old veteran of the school system who drilled us on unmemorable crap – obviously I gained nothing from her class, even her name.
    Here’s a kicker – the only time I ever ran into the terms like ‘infinitive,’ ‘participle,’ and the ever popular ‘pluperfect,’ was in spanish class. That is not a good foundation in english grammar. It’d be interesting to have Keith and Bob chime in on their thoughts.
    I am become pluperfect, destroyer of infinitives.

  4. Clearly, CA has both a professional and personal interest in grammar. Perhaps she can be the Grand(ly) Muddled Grammarian (GMG) of Muddled U.

    I also have a question for her. Is “to be” on the endangered phrases list. Whenever I hear someone say “The building needs painted”, I think that they have got to be (can’t stop myself) kidding, but they don’t even smile when they say it.

    Maybe its nothing more than a mostly harmless colloquialism from the part of the world where I live. However, if “to be”s are disappearing elsewhere (San Diego?, NM?, Duke?!), then there is real cause for concern.

  5. Language Log discussed the “needs painted” pattern a while back, but my attempts to find it just led me into drifting around through their archives reading unrelated postings about baseball speech.

    I think the omission is not geographically bound; I had a co-worker from the midwest who used it all the time.

  6. My main sources of grammar knowledge: Elizabeth Aiello, Genevieve Deloche Loya, Lynn Beene, Bob Gassaway.

    The first two were teachers in the Los Alamos school system — Mademoiselle Deloche (who later became Madame Loya) was a French teacher, but learning French allowed me to analyze what I knew about English on a new level. One of the benefits of learning a second language is that it makes one think more deeply about one’s first language, so it’s really not all that surprising that your Spanish class helped you to understand English better. The second two were professors at UNM — Lynn in English, and Bob in journalism. Lynn was big on the theory and analysis; Bob was big on effectiveness.

    Meanwhile, I do have one other thought on the use of be with the past participle of a linking verb — effectively, that past participle turns into an adjective, so be is more appropriate than have.

    Trying to think of examples …

    I have learned much. That’s an active verb, so when it is in the past participle, have is the appropriate helping verb.

    I have changed. That’s the modern formation, with have as the helping verb.

    I am changed. That’s the older formation, with be as the helping verb.

    There are some subtleties of meaning here. In the newer formation, have might be seen as indicating volition — that the person has consciously chosen to change. In the older formation, be could indicate that the change was not the person’s choice.

    Interesting to think that Oppenheimer might have seen his transformation into Shiva as not his choice.

  7. Thanks CA on both counts – 1) for the answers, and 2) for answering…which is more than WWWords did for me.

    I am sorry to tell Bob that I am a ‘needs painted’ talker, nowadays. I would’ve blamed it on the south, but according to Jer that is a false assumption. ( as opposed to a flase assumption which is what I typed the first time). I could say that ‘needs painted’ takes a microcalorie less to say than the whole ‘to be’ kaboodle, but it appears to me that ‘needs painting’ isn’t so wrong and it is similarily energy efficient.

  8. I was totally unaware of the “needs painted” talkers, if anyone cares about the data point.

    The streamlining of language — Jesse’s micro-calorie argument — had already occurred to me, but a moment’s reflection led me to the just-as-efficient “needs painting” construction, which has the added benefit of not sounding like it needs corrected.

  9. needs painting … is in need of an application of paint, emphasis on the desired action or process

    needs paint … bare spot needs to be covered, coverage isn’t thick enough, people were too cheap or poor to afford a bucket of paint

    Southerners should appreciate the book, A Painted House, by John Grisham. It covers the subject nicely.

  10. And then there’s the expression hire it done, as in

    We had such trouble painting the house that next time, we’re gonna hire it done.

    Now, while that construction defies logical syntax, it does use fewer words than hire someone to do it. Grammatically, hire it done is incorrect. But you have to admit, it’s also efficient. (Not that folks in the South are exactly recognized for being efficient.)

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