326: Effect an Effect

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Effect an Effect
Time to paint another grammarian silhouette on the side of the desktop.
Title text: Time to paint another grammarian silhouette on the side of the desktop.


"Affect" and "effect" can each both be a noun and a verb, share the sense of influence, and they are often confused with each other. (See the usage note under "Affect.")

In careful speech, both words (as verbs) are similar but not identical. "Affect" is /əˈfɛkt/ (or uh-fekt) and "effect" is /ɪˈfɛkt/ (or ih-fekt). However, for some people, these words are homophones — it's also explained here: homophones affect vs effect.

"Effect" is usually a noun, meaning a result, and "affect" usually a verb, meaning to act upon. "Effect" as a verb has the slightly different meaning to bring about. Cueball says that the foreign policy causes the situation, not, as the "grammar nazi" thinks, that it changes the situation.

The title of the comic translates to cause or bring about a result, which is just what Cueball does! It can also be seen as a play on words, being similar to the phrase "cause and effect."

The title text refers to the Victory marking practice common among fighter pilots in a war zone. Fighter pilots who score a "kill" on an opposing aircraft will have a silhouette of the downed plane painted on the side of their plane as a way of keeping track of kills. In this sense, Cueball "shot down," figuratively speaking, an online (grammar) nazi, and would mark it by painting a silhouette on the side of his computer.

See also 1429: Data.


My Hobby:
Using the more obscure meanings of "affect" and "effect" to try to trip up amateur grammar Nazis.
Cueball: I think that our foreign policy effects the situation.
Grammar Nazi, via Computer: You mean "affects."
Cueball: tee hee hee

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Can someone explain the title text, thanks! –St.nerol (talk) 14:20, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

Yeah, I'd like to see that get added as well. I kind of assumed it was like taking a kill-count; one painting for each victim. I'm not sure what it specifically refers to, or what the origin of the term is. 05:55, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
seen the silhouette images of enemy planes painted next to the pilots canopy on mid 20th century fighter planes? its a reference to that. i've only seen it in films but presumably where there's smoke there's fire. *edit for improved explanation: the images are painted by the pilot to show how many 'bogies' he's shot down,much like how cueball will paint the grammarian on his desktop as another victim. Xseo (talk) 10:02, 15 April 2013 (UTC)
"mid 20th century fighter planes"?? As opposed to what? Late 18th century fighter planes? 02:44, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
As opposed to late 20th and 21st century fighter planes perhaps? St.nerol (talk) 08:20, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
And assuming "mid 20th century" refers to World War II of 1939-45 (less years for Americans, arguably more so for some other countries), there were already gun-attached 'fighter aircraft' in WWI and onward (though often technically called "scouts" or "pursuit" aircraft, in English and American terminology, respectively... other countries/languages having their own varients). Maybe not from the very start of the 1914-18 conflict, as opposing aircrews were apparently quite friendly to each other for a while until some air-reconnaissance pilot took a pistol up with him (or perhaps it was originally a solution against airships, leastwise those that they could get high enough to attack). And then some people had the idea to hard-attach various projectile weapons to the planes. And, oh boy, they had fun for a while trying to mount them to fire through their own front propellers, didn't they? ;)
Anyway, the concept definitely had become engrained before the 'mid' 20thC, by whatever name. Did the Red Baron paint kills on his triplane? Did Biggles (fictionally) do so? Someone ought to actually research this. ;) 16:27, 19 June 2013 (UTC)
At least in his autobiography "Der rote Kampfflieger" (The red Fighter pilot) Manfred von Richthofen (the actual name of the Red Baron) did not tell about that. And he did not mention any other pilot doing so, either. But since he considered being a fighter pilot as a sport such as hunting and he was very proud of his "score" it is most likely he would have telled if there were such a rite, I guess. As such I would consider "mid 20th century" as correct, since most if not all actual evidences of that tradition I am aware of are from WWII or later. Unfortunately I did not found any information about the origin of that tradition. The only wikipedia entry is the German article about "Abschussmarkierung" which has no links to translations of other languages and does not contain any information about the origin and searching for "kill marks" or "kill scores" leads to nothing but hobbyist forums or World of Tanks/World of Warplanes (both being more or less WWII games) and similar. Maybe I do some more research on this, later. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 15:48, 4 December 2014 (UTC)

Effects effecting affects affect effects effectively. Also, Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. --naginalf 20:29, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

Wouldn’t the sentence “I want to put a hyphen between the words Fish and and and and and Chips in my Fish-and-Chips sign” have been clearer if quotation marks had been placed before Fish, and between Fish and and, and and and and, and and and and, and and and and, and and and and, and and and Chips, as well as after Chips? 19:54, 24 December 2020 (UTC)
Sure, but really, if an effect can effect affects effectively, how many affects can an effect effectively effect? Brettpeirce (talk) 14:46, 3 October 2014 (UTC)
As many affects as an effect can effect if an effect can effect affects effectively. 04:09, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
What that is that that is is that that is what that is, I guess. 19:42, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

I was in a meeting once where a guy said, "I am effected by my environment." I replied, "Oh? We think, therefore you are?" Nobody laughed. Sigh. -- CoderLass (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Can someone simplify the meaning / alternative words for the two variants and verb/noun uses in a spreadsheet? --Björn Eberhardt 14:50, 3 June 2015 (CEST)

You shouldn't need a spreadsheet, since it's only a 2x2 matrix, meaning just 4 meanings. Briefly:
  • Effect (noun): result
  • Effect (verb): cause
  • Affect (noun): visible sign of mood
  • Affect (verb): change
There are additional meanings for all of these, but they're generally related to the main meaning in obvious ways. 07:28, 16 September 2015 (UTC)

Bjorn- if you find anyone to do that, I'm getting it as a tattoo. Gwynfshae (talk) 15:01, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

The spelling of "foreign" was corrected several hours after it was posted, according to the XKCD blog. Anyone know how it was initially spelled? 23:34, 31 March 2016 (UTC)

"Foriegn". (The 'e' and 'i' are transposed.) Here's a Wayback Machine link.
I imagine someone's gonna want this. 06:05, 4 January 2022 (UTC)

Does the plane-painting thing actually ever happen? I have heard people say the practice exited from well before WWII, but in almost every case both before and after I think it’s an urban legend. 17:03, 22 April 2016 (UTC)