Wednesday, March 12, 2003
Hi Neil-

I apologize if this isn't the proper form of contact but I couldn't find an email address. You stated in the bit about the laptop that momentarily means "for a moment" rather than "in a moment". I recall that particular question being addressed in an episode of a show called Sports Night, written by Aaron Sorkin, where towards the end someone said that momentarily means both "for a moment" and "in a moment".

I'm more inclined to believe you than a random bit off a tv show, but I thought I'd mention it.



Language is a river, it's not fixed. The meanings of words change, and any rear-guard action to try and keep them meaning what you think they ought to mean is doomed. So momentarily does now mean "in a moment" as well as "for a moment" because that's how people use it, just as hopefully no longer means "in a way that's filled with hope" (as in "We walked hopefully toward the city on the hill") but it also means, and is mostly used to mean "I hope that", and enormity which once meant "monstrous badness" also means "enormousness" because that's how people use it.

On the one hand, grumbling is pointless. Language is a river. Go back a few hundred years and many words would have shades of meaning they no longer have. Go back a little further and you'll find yourself tripped up by the most common and simple words which would mean something quite different (Silly originally meant "innocent", for example.)

On the other hand, I'm still going to grumble, because as a writer, whenever a word with a precise meaning loses it, I lose a tool.


I was reading in your journal about the issue of physical quality of US paperbacks versus UK paperbacks. I buy a lot of Fantasy, and mostly it's perfectly fine a few years down the line. Admittedly, I've only had most of it for 2 or 3 years. The point to this though, is that I am a big fan of Robert Jordan, or at least have been, and so I hang around with some of the communities based on his books online. It's a universal truth among his fans that the American versions of his books (published by Tor) are worthless physically, while the UK versions (from Orbit) are really good. Maybe this is the exception that proves the rule, but all I know is, my one US paperback from Tor fell apart after one read, while my range of UK copies have survived multiple re reads by myself and others. I'm not going to be ordering books from the US if I can avoid it any time soon..

Shaun O' Connor
Belfast, N. Ireland

There are certainly some worst offenders on both sides...

On the other side of the internet, Sharon the Dell Employee cringes behind her monitor. Her only consolation is that she is a very small cog--and not a customer-facing cog, either--in a very large machine, and has nothing to do with Mr. Gaiman's experiences with her company's products or its support agents. She hopes that he will be able to return to his craft soon, free of the burden of technical woes, because a horde of angry fangirl netizens is a terrifying force of nature.

Oh, I'm not really grumbling at Dell. I mean, I've been using Dell computers since about 1988, despite the single worst piece of customer relations I've ever experienced, in around 1996. (Me: Look, if you really don't want to fix it, I'll buy my next computer from someone else. Dell Support Guy: Like we care? Whatever. You'll be back. Me: Puts down phone and buys a Gateway.) I'm perfectly aware that this one was just random bad luck, and just wanted to vent.

Anyway, I'm almost enjoying the winnowing process of sticking stuff on a clean computer.

Hi Neil,
To begin this letter I was wondering "why tell him he's the best, his books are my all-time favourites along with JRR Tolkien ones if everybody tells him so?" and then I remembered: Because YOU ARE THE BEST.
Anyways, I was wondering (but without much hope as I didn't see your name on the lists) if you've been invited to the 23rd Salon du livre de Paris wich takes place between the 21st an 23rd of March.
Oh and by the way, you can broaden your statement: While the comuputer is still doing what you bought it for never complain for anything happening to it, or if you complain, try to look mad, always worked with AOL's Hotline.


Nope -- I'll be in France on the European tour in I think the third week of May. (The current sequence is Holland, Portugal, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Italy and France.)