Fore a Fortnight, or Why Google Needs to Learn More About Me

April 23, 2007

I’m well aware of the fact that google is reading my e-mail; I just wish they’d do a better job of it. In fact, my experience seems to be the exact opposite of Elm Rock City, who worries that google knows her too well. Despite the fact that I have not one but two ivy league email addresses forwarded to my gmail (merely a statement of fact), google consistently sends me ads about getting into an Ivy League school; or, despite the fact that I’m in a PhD program, google continues to send me links about getting into graduate school. Deep down I like the idea that google is reading my mail, and helping me to find services that can help me. I want google to give me the answer to the question I just emailed my professor. I want google to remind me to send flowers when I get a note about a birthday, or when I’ve been negligent in my romantic responsibilities. I want google to tell me what horse to bet to show. The bottom line is: if google is going to store all this information about me, they should really get to know me.

Today we may have hit a breakthrough. Though not an ad, gmail decided to send along’s word of the day: spoonerism. I actually don’t read anyone else’s wotd columns as I find they tend toward mass appeal rather than true logophilia, but this one was a goodie. As it turns out, “spoonerism” was the word of the day almost two weeks ago, a fact which made me wonder why google was only getting around to sending it to me now. Perhaps they’ve recently discovered a treasure trove about me, and google has somehow learned about “spoonball,” a game I invented in high school with a few friends that involves launching pieces of napkin with a spoon. Still, it seems unlikely.

The reason probably has something to do with our previous post about euphony. A spoonerism is “spoonerism \SPOO-nuh-riz-uhm\, noun:
The transposition of usually initial sounds in a pair of words.” Here are some examples of spoonerisms:
The Lord is a shoving leopard [“loving shepherd”].

Let us raise our glasses to the queer old Dean [“dear old Queen”].

Let me sew you to your sheet [“show you to your seat”].

These quotes are all attributed to Rev. Spooner, for whom the word is named. The OED adds that the word was “Known in colloquial use in Oxford from about 1885,” which is the first time I’ve seen the OED explicitly make reference to its geographic location. Spooner was  a warden at Oxford, so this certainly makes sense. You can read all about him here.

I just hope google keeps sending me such good links.

2 Responses to “Fore a Fortnight, or Why Google Needs to Learn More About Me”

  1. Annie Says:

    I rarely find a word of the day (via gmail) that I do not already know/have used within the past week.

    Also, I was in a hockey pool that included a great deal of trash-talk over email. As a result, google decided that I wanted to know about diapers and potty training. To this day I am often asked if I am a “slacker mom.” What does that even mean?

  2. dailysalad Says:

    You’re right about the gmail word of the days. This has been the first one they sent me that wasn’t completely obvious.

    I’m also taken by this “slacker mom” title. How does one earn such a rank? But the real question is: why doesn’t google try to reach these slacker moms, try to help them through their problems, instead of striking at young post-collegiates?

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