>Hi! >Can someone tell me what "Zilch" means ? >I've seen this word only 2 times, once in a computer game >(Hugos house of horror) and the second time in "It" by >Stephen King. >In the game it was something like an exclamation ("Zilch!"), >in the novel it was used differently ("Zilch was the custom, >nil was still the rule"). >I've looked for it in several dictionairies and translation books, >but never found it. >Because of the mystery this word became, a friend of mine and me >chose this word to be our band's name (well, we actually splitted >some time ago). >BYE! > >P.S.:By the way, please tell me if I made any grammar or spelling mistakes, > I'm still trying to improve my English. "Zilch" is American slang for "nothing", i.e, "nil", "zero", "nada", etc. It is a term of contempt, generally with an overtone of resentment. For some reason, such terms are many, possibly because of a poetic tendency to rhyme semantically when trying to speak colorfully: You get nothing. Get it? Nada, nil, zip, zero, zilch. I'm 53 years old and I've only heard it for the last 30 or so years, so it's fairly recent, as these things go. (It's a nice question whether a prescriptivist grammarian would rule that "I didn't get zilch" was a double negative, or whether it merely used slang inappropriately.) And, since you asked: 1) There should be an apostrophe in "Hugo's". The English possessive isn't a real case like the Genitive in German; it's an enclitic that attaches to the last word of a noun phrase, and to celebrate its semi-inflectional status it's spelled with an apostrophe, though it's pronounced identically with the -s endings without apostrophes. And, yes, this *does* cause us a lot of grief, as witness a.u.e discussions. 2) there should be a semicolon as below: ..it was something like an exclamation ("Zilch!"); in the novel it was used differently.. What you have here is a "comma splice", which means putting together small sentences with commas, not noticing that each one needs its own sentence intonation. Unlike the German punctuation rules, which are based on grammar, English punctuation rules are based on intonation for the most part. Commas refer to a specific intonation contour, and so does the period. The period, of course, stops the sentence; but often one wants to continue; that's what the semicolon is for. It has the same intonation as a period but doesn't stop the official sentence. 3) "dictionairies" should be "dictionaries" (ai -> a). It would be pronounced identically, though, if that were the correct spelling. 4) If your intention is to do much formal English writing, you should use "a friend and I" instead of "a friend of mine and me" when used as a subject. In situations like that, written formal English does not smile on an objective pronoun. And the "of mine and me" phrase seems redundant, anyway; whose friends would we be expecting? :-) If, on the other hand, your intention is to learn colloquial American youth dialect, let me suggest that many young people would say "me and a friend (of mine)" in preference to "a friend of mine and me". The parentheses indicate that the phrase is optional; however, since a) the objective pronoun is now first in a conjoined noun phrase, and needs insulation, i.e, some verbiage to separate it from the verb so one can forget what case it was by the time the verb arrives; and since b) the extra prepositional phrase "of mine" in this case will be put at the *end* of the phrase, where it's OK to string things out, English being a right-branching language; and also due to c) Zwicky's Law, which states categorically that "The more irrelevant garbage you put into a sentence, the better it sounds.", it's quite common to hear "me and a friend of mine". 5) The past tense of "split" is "split" (i.e, they're identical), not "splitted". There is a small group of English verbs that have this property. Virtually all are monosyllabic and end in "d" or "t". -------------------------------------------- -John Lawler More grammar Linguistics Program University of Michigan "..and, who knows? Maybe the horse will sing."