This blog was started as a permanent home for posts I write to email groups (mainly on language) that I* want to keep somewhere. It is also where I post my word tasting notes, which are also available by email. I have also been adding articles I write on language for other publications. (For those that buy exclusive rights, I post the links; for others, I repost the whole article.)

Sesquiotica is things sesquiotic. Sesquiotics is three times as good as semiotics. Lend me an ear and a half! A word isn’t much good if it can only mean one thing at a time.

Words are delicious and intoxicating. They do much more than just denote; they have appearance, sound, a feel in the mouth, and words they sound like and travel with. All of these participate in the aesthetic experience of the word and can affect communication. So why not taste them like a fine wine?

* I = James Harbeck: BFA (Calgary), MA, PhD (Tufts), all in drama, and MA (York) in linguistics; professional editor, designer, and writer for the past two decades. If you would like to know more about me, Capioca interviewed me. It’s not brief.

42 responses to “About

  1. Or you could delete it, if you don’t think WordPress’s boilerplate quite captures your unique essence.

    Welcome to the blogosphere!

  2. Still finding my way around this all…

  3. I need a bigger taste of sesquiotic, the word, not the title. k?

  4. Pingback: Ideophones around the web — The Ideophone

  5. Pingback: Let’s be clear about something | Sesquiotica

  6. Stephen Fry has something rather lovely to say about language for enjoyment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7E-aoXLZGY

  7. Pingback: I Decreed. What’s To Discuss? « All Fired Up In The Big Smoke

  8. Sesquiotica – another gift to the world from Toronto!

  9. You might get a kick out of my blog in which each posting begins with somewhat ‘crazy’ prose poems, then goes on to include other poetry, usually that of other poets. After a month-long hiatus, I’ll start posting again very soon. Claudia Coutu Radmore

  10. Really neat name and concept for a blog. I love linguistics. Cheers!

  11. Mr. Harbeck, will you do an entry about the misuse of prepositions, or what I see as the misuse of prepositions? For instance, instead of saying “good for you,” I find that many Americans in their Internet writings are saying “good on you,” which I believe is an Australian expression, and it just irks me to no end every time I see it. “Good on yer, mate!”

    I do a lot of transcribing of interviews and I’m appalled at the college educated people who continuously misuse prepositions. Could you address this?

    Thank you,

    -Shelley Fleming

    • Perhaps Shelley a little more investigation would reveal the possible origins. Further more it would seem that this expression has been around long enough, at least in Eire, to have become accepted usage and thus a part of the English language which after all is a living evolving thing.

    • I’m appalled about much worse things humans do besides misuse prepositions or wtf ever is your beef with the grammar of those who don’t need to impress you, expression of any kind is better than none at all. I admit it can be annoying but most people have much harder times with life, so pick a different problem. Maybe your problem with issues that don’t matter as much as just letting people express themselves without being graded by OCD grammar and or English 101 instructors not doing much but correcting others. You keep up your math and science skills, I’ll talk and write as I feel is important to my audience at the most crucial moments we miss the point, life isn’t a game. It’s very important to try to keep out planet, species and Earth from becoming a terrible place to live and die when war never ends, mothers lose babies to illness,poverty kills our childrens dreams, religion rips our nations apart and blood is shed over very horrible beliefs. Let’s start where is most important to humans, not certain persons without a clue how much words can become powerful no matter how they present themselves among pages. Slaves don’t need to make a correction in the words or rules of a language not their own to live out in a beautiful attempt to be heard, shared and just as raw and totally wrong in every class we take, but who’s the one grading the papers scientists write that have no English or grammar that needs to be provided to impact the world in ways much more epic than those of all or none type of thinking, info gathering, presentation of most human of ways.

  12. Couldn’t agree more, the SOUNDS of some words can be intoxicating.

  13. I like your sense of humour. I look forward to reading more.

  14. I have nominated you for The Versatile Blogger award, because I think is the cat’s whiskers, I write better after I read you..

    Should you choose to accept it, Please go to this link http://rebrandinglife.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/a-100-days-to-a-new-name-day-27-finally-an-acknowledgement/
    (I think) you would need to insert a link back to my site.
    Copy the versatile blogger icon from this post you can insert this into your own new post.
    Choose 7 random facts about yourself you wish to share and type these in for your readers.
    Select your 10 (or a few more) favourite blogs you wish to nominate for the award and add these as well to the post with a description of what is good about them.
    Tell these bloggers you have nominated them for the award and add a link.
    Good luck and thanks for writing so beautifully!

  15. Enjoyed your Slate piece on the terrifying “mor”. Which by the way is probably the first real word to most Danes and Norwegians as it means “mother” in both languages and is short enough for small kids to master.

  16. Barbie Beaton

    I have to know…did you, like me, sing your blog subtitle words, words, words like Motley Crue’s girls, girls, girls?

  17. Bonjour! I have nominated you for the “Very Inspiring Blogger Award”. You may accept and pass it on, or decline and ignore it. (I think.) Thank you for being an inspiration to me. http://www.optimisticmisfit.com

  18. How aout an article on the misues of who, ie where that is wrongly used instead of that. Virtual reality is dehumanising enough without English language adding to it. Even found one publishers twitter profile which had it wrong!

  19. I am a regular reader of your WordPress blog, and thoroughly enjoy it. I couldn’t find a place to email you in order to make a suggestion, so here it is. Would you consider exploring the use of the word “tony.” I just came across this headline and thought it might be just up your alley. “Residents in tony Calgary neighbourhood upset about fence, so they throw rocks at city employees http://huff.to/1xH6PsS

  20. Pingback: Propaedeutic Cyborgs, or Why I Wish James Harbeck Wrote Victorian Fiction | The Dictionary of Victorian Insults & Niceties

  21. Glad I found your blog. Any relation to a sister trio Dorothy, Claire and Jean? Just wondering because your last name is so unusual.

  22. Hello there,
    To help bring new faces past your wonderful work and love of words, I’ve nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award over here:
    I hope it helps your audience grow.
    Please don’t feel pressured to follow through with Nominating others, we all have tight schedules, I understand. 🙂
    Keep writing!

  23. Pingback: deuteraesthetic | Sesquiotica

  24. What a great find! Thanks for taking us out to play with words!

  25. Something tells me you’d like Meklit Hadero’s TED Talk: “The Unexpected Beauty of Everyday Sounds.” She makes some inspired points about language and words.

  26. Have just discovered your blog. Please marry me. (I mean this in a platonic, non-bigamist, socially-appropriate, and non-stalkerly way.)

  27. Really cool!

  28. I wish to sign up for your site. How do I do that? I used to receive it regularly, but it quit.

  29. Adventures in the Burbs

    I dig it. I’ve recently started trying (yes trying) to expand my vocabulary for my own writing so I will definitely use your and enjoy your work. Well done.

  30. I tried to find any mention of the word “haberdashery” on your site but to no avail. It’s a neat word!

  31. I was looking for a subtle difference between “crucial” and “pivotal” for a research paper and your website explains it so well. Thank you very much.

  32. Marianne Brooks

    Oh hello, I just came across your most illuminating article on the subject of laurel. However, although bay is a kind of laurel, I would always make clear the distinction between bay and English Laurel (Prunus Laurocerus) or American Laurel (Prunus caroliniana).These two are very common plants, used for hedging because they are evergreen, and known simply as ‘Laurel’. However, its leaves and berries contain cyanogenic glycosides and are toxic to humans. Best not to put in your stew, eh?

  33. Abigail Adams

    Good evening! I found your blog looking up the word “fenester” from Mark Dunn’s almost-as-linguistically-delightful “Ella Minnow Pea”
    and I am enchanted
    as an enthusiast of linguistics and an aspiring writer-of-some-sort who has just begun to realize how cramped her own vocabulary is, and how many people there are in the world who use English with effortless and poetic fluency (you write these in an hour? an *hour.*), this blog comes at just the right moment. I shall subscribe to your email list, read your master’s thesis (and hopefully glean some tips for writing vivid poetry and prose), and enthusiastically cite this site to every word-inclined person I happen upon. Thank you thank you thank you

  34. Capioca’s interview on medium has been deleted it seems. It returns error 410.
    11:16 AM, Chhatarpur Madhya Pradesh India. Anand

  35. Pingback: Categorization Theory « Log24

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