New phrase much

Perhaps you’ve noticed a slight dropoff from the normally low-frequency posting here. Well, whatever it is that caused it, it’s also causing more cars to be on the road every day, and more people to be on various college campuses. In any case, I have a question. It involves things like this:

For example, in the item description she busts out with the following paragraph: “If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me! I do have cats, but I keep them away from the fabrics/craft area.” Uh… non sequitur much? (link)

Your writer’s true colors are revealed when they refer to a Big Mac as “charred flesh”. Ummm, vegan much? Thank you, and have a nice day. (link)

Uh, okay. Prejudiced much? (link)

Beetle: uh, hmmm…literate much? (link)

Not part of my idiolect much? I have to admit that this is not really part of my speech, and I don’t have a good grasp on how to use it and what phrases can the much-ified (thus leaning on the crutch of there sometimes being as uh/um before the item in question). And it sure seems like there must have been some popular or cult individual who popularized this sort of thing – any ideas?

And it could be that I’m not really all that sure what these things mean, at least in the semantic details. That is to day, in something like busy much? or come here much?, you’re asking about frequency. In enjoy movies much? you’re asking about degree/extent (or possibly frequency…I suppose). In something like non sequitur much? is the person (sarcastically) asking about the frequency of non sequiturs (by some individual), or is that not really what’s going on?

Best this side

Superlative descriptions like to be limited to a particular groups of things to be compared. People are best in their class, a mountain might be the tallest in the lower 48 states, and several things are no doubt the best inventions since sliced bread. Of course, something could always just be the worst idea ever. One way to express how you’re limited the domain of compared items is to use the phrase this side of X. Now, you can’t go around using this for just any sort of domain limitation. It works really well when you’re talking about geographically limiting the domain of comparison to…well, shouldn’t it be obvious? Here’s some old timey examples from the OED.

1840 T. C. HALIBURTON Clockmaker III. xviii, He is..the best live one that ever cut dirt this side of the big pond.

1914 Sat. Even. Post 4 Apr. 10/2 There ain’t a kid like him this side of the Hump [sc. mountain range in west of N. America]–nor t’other side either.

Big, or at least salient, geographic features seem to work well – oceans, mountain ranges, mason-dixon lines. Also good are salient locations. Nearby pizza favorite Zachary’s has been lauded as the best pizza this side of Chicago. A place at Tahoe seems to have the best mesquite tri-tip and ribs this side of Texas. Now, it’s not clear to me that these claims are about, for example, taking the area between Chicago and the SF Bay Area and saying that there’s no better pizza in that region. It’s rather that they’re picking a place famous for pizza (or ribs), and saying that their own pizza may not be quite as good (or authentic), but it’s pretty darned close.

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I’m sharing your resources

This morning as I was walking to campus, I thought about the meaning of share. There are, broadly, at least two cases where you can describe some situation as involving sharing. One is where there is some individual K who has ownership/possession/control over a particular item (call it a “resource,” though it could be a toy truck). K allows some other people to make use of that resource, potentially as though it were their own, but with the understanding that the resource still belongs to K. If the people K is sharing the resource with eventually decide they don’t need to use it any more, then K goes back to having full use over it. The other situation involves joint ownership or “usership.” Two or more individuals have access to some resource, either because it is public (e.g., computers in a library) or because they acquire it together, and agree to some arrangement that lets each of them use it approximately whenever they want to. If it ever happens that one of the individuals decides they don’t need use of that resource any more, and if they have joint ownership (i.e., not a public resource) then there may have to be some negotiation to see what happens to the resource (e.g., they exchange money so that one person has paid the full price of the resource).

In thinking about these two different situations (which, yes, can be found in a good dictionary), I thought: when can you say something like I’m sharing X with her? Certainly if you are K above, then you can say this. And if you are one of the individuals in the second situation, then you can say this as well. Okay, how about I’m sharing my X? Again, okay if you’re K, but not if you’re in the second situation. That makes sense. How about I’m sharing his X? At first, I thought maybe that didn’t make sense. If Jason shares his bike with me, then it doesn’t seem like I could say I have a bike I can use — I’m sharing Jason’s. So I checked Google (so far I’ve just looked for “sharing his X”).

Turns out there’s a lot of sharing other people’s stuff, but it’s not the meaning I was looking for: there’s a sense of share that has to do with informing or communication: I can share the findings of my research with your, or share Jason’s email from last night. But, in all the examples, I did find a few of the type I was after. One was pretty normal:

I do feel a need to at least be nice to Dave Winer while I’m sharing his potato chips. (0xDECAFBAD)

And the rest seemed to come from creative writing blogs and websites.

And yes, I’m sharing his room with him. (Jueann’s Project and Diary)

It’s not that he’s verbally telling me not to say too much. I’m sharing his body, and his brain, just for the moment. (One To Many)

I flew with Mr. Eagle again today I think it must be the same one that I flew with last time he seems not too worried that I’m sharing his space.

Yes, it’s just anecdotal evidence, but I swear, several times I’ve been looking for slightly oddball constructions, and nearly all the hits are from some sort of creative writing – serial stories on blogs, fanfiction, and so forth.