Archive for Words words words

Merriam-Webster adds adorkable, ICYMI

…and 368 other words, in its September 2022 New Words list.

This is a close as we now get to a genuine "Word Induction Ceremony", as imagined on Comedy Central in 2008 (see "Ozay, dot-nose, kangamangus", 12/5/2008).

Some version of the vetting process has of course been in place as long as dictionaries have existed, as described by F.A. Austin in 1923 ("Getting into the English Dictionary; Every New Word Must Pass an Inquisition to be Admitted to the Select 500,000", NYT 6/3/1923), with this illustration [cited here by Ben Zimmer]:


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Another skirmish in the Dictionary Wars

A press release from the U.S. Atorney's Office, District of Massachusetts — "California Man Pleads Guilty to Threatening Merriam-Webster with Anti-LGBTQ Violence", 9/14/2022:

A California man pleaded guilty on Sept. 8, 2022 in federal court in Springfield, Mass. to making threats to commit anti-LGBTQ violence against Springfield-based Merriam-Webster, Inc. and others.

Jeremy David Hanson, 34, of Rossmoor, Calif., pleaded guilty to one count of interstate communication of threatening communications to commit violence against the employees of Merriam-Webster, and to another count charging the same offense, initially filed in the Eastern District of Texas, targeting the President of the University of North Texas. In a written statement of facts accompanying his plea agreement, Hanson also admitted to sending threatening communications to various corporations, politicians, and others, including the Walt Disney Co., the Governor of California and the Mayor of New York City, a New York rabbi and professors at Loyola Marymount University. Hanson also admitted that he frequently selected the object of his threatening communications because of the gender, gender identity and/or sexual orientation of various persons.

The lexicographical part of Hanson's ire was directed against online M-W entries relating to sex and gender, including girlfemale, and gender identity.

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Backronym of the month

DARPA's AdvaNced airCraft Infrastructure-Less Launch And RecoverY (ANCILLARY) wins my vote for the backronym of the month — though some may feel that it's unfair to pick some medial and final letters while leaving out some initial ones.

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Shades of gray

Amanda Mull, "The HGTV-ification of America: You can't escape gray floors", The Atlantic 8/19/2022:

You’ve seen the gray flooring. You know its lifeless hue even if you haven’t been house hunting recently. The stuff is in old-house-rehab shows on HGTV, in the house next door that’s now on the market for the second time in nine months, in the ads for at least one but probably several new condo buildings in a rapidly gentrifying part of your city. It’s as omnipresent online as it is in real life, making frequent appearances in the newly purchased houses of 20-something TikTok-hustle influencers and in the homes that play background to Millennials trying to make their pets Instagram famous.

These floors—almost always made of what’s called luxury vinyl plank flooring in trade terms, or laminate or fake wood in real terms — can vary in shade anywhere from vape cloud to wet gravel. The companies that market them tend to use terms like sterling and chiffon lace and winding brook. Gray laminate seems to have begun the journey to popularity about a decade ago; when I last apartment hunted, in 2017 in Brooklyn, it was already common in listings that bragged of newly renovated units. Now gray flooring is so ubiquitous that all kinds of people — interior designers, real-estate agents, random Redditors — have begun to plead for mercy.

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"Whiskey Fungus" words

Today I learned about "whiskey fungus" — and the linked page will tell you all about it, from a general perspective, including the nature and role of the "angel's share". But I also clicked on the Wikipedia article for the fungus species involved, Baudoinia compniacensis, and the first paragraph of that article's Description section featured an unusually large number of technical terms previous unknown to me.

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Stigginit

Recent reading turned up a coinage that's been around (at least) since 2016 without getting a Word Induction Ceremony, even on LLOG: stigginit, which an Urban Dictionary entry from 2016 defines as

Slang form of "sticking it." Used to describe opposition motivated purely by spite, usually not in one's best interest.

Merriam-Webster, Wiktionary, and the OED haven't caught up yet, but beyond the Urban Dictionary, web search finds an explanation in the Christian Courier, also from 2016. And of course there are tweets.

But my point today is phonetic rather than lexicographic, focused on stigginit's transformation of sticking's /k/ to /g/, which illustrates several general facts about English speech, with broader application as well: syllable- and foot-structure effects, word-frequency effects, and "quantal" effects.

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"Founded shooting"

The University of Pennsylvania has an "Emergency Notification System", to which I subscribe, that "enables the University to quickly notify the Penn and surrounding Philadelphia community of critical information during significant emergencies or dangerous situations involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees occurring on campus". Early this morning I got a couple of messages from this system. The first one:

Police Activity in the area of 38 & spruce. Police have secured the scene. Please avoid the area.

And an update:

38th street continues to remain closed as Penn and Philadelphia Police continue to investigate a founded shooting in the area.

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"The P Word"

Josh Dickey, "Donald Trump Called Mike Pence ‘The P-Word’ and a ‘Wimp’ for Refusing to Block 2020 Election", 6/16/2020:

Donald Trump called Mike Pence “the P-word” and “a wimp” during a phone call in which the president was trying to convince the vice president to take the unprecedented – and almost certainly illegal – step of singlehandedly refusing to certify the 2020 election, according to testimony Thursday on Capitol Hill.

In a brief clip of video testimony at the Jan. 6 committee hearings, Julie Radford, Ivanka Trump’s chief of staff at the White House, said her boss told her “that her dad had just had an upsetting conversation with the VP.”

She was asked by the questioning attorney whether she remembered what name Trump called Pence.

“The P-word,” she said.

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New frontiers in acronymity

Recently I've been learning a lot of new letterisms — which I propose as a useful term covering both acronyms and initialisms, as well as some other cases within the general category of abbreviations. Sure, ACLU is pronounced as a sequence of four letter names, while NATO is pronounced as two syllables with no letter names involved. But there's variation: the School of Arts and Sciences at Penn is SAS, sometimes called "S A S" and sometimes "sass"; the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is sometimes "S E A S" and sometimes "sees". And there are mixed cases. In Penn's residential system, for example, HMOD is a designated role, standing for "Housing Manager On Duty",  and pronounced /ˈeʧˌmɐd/, i.e. the letter "H" followed by the syllable "mod".

And for examples learned though reading, it can be unclear what the pronunciation should be. I know that ACLU is not "a clue" because I've heard it pronounced many times — but what about SLIFE = "Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education", a letterism that I learned a few days ago? (It's new enough that the Acronym Finder page doesn't know about it yet…) Is SLIFE a single syllable rhyming with knife? or is it the letter S followed by "life"? or is it the sequence of five letter names "S L I F E"? I'm guessing that it's one of the first two, but I could be wrong.

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Algospeak

Taylor Lorenz, "Internet ‘algospeak’ is changing our language in real time, from ‘nip nops’ to ‘le dollar bean’", WaPo 4/8/2022:

“Algospeak” is becoming increasingly common across the Internet as people seek to bypass content moderation filters on social media platforms such as TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and Twitch.

Algospeak refers to code words or turns of phrase users have adopted in an effort to create a brand-safe lexicon that will avoid getting their posts removed or down-ranked by content moderation systems. For instance, in many online videos, it’s common to say “unalive” rather than “dead,” “SA” instead of “sexual assault,” or “spicy eggplant” instead of “vibrator.”

As the pandemic pushed more people to communicate and express themselves online, algorithmic content moderation systems have had an unprecedented impact on the words we choose, particularly on TikTok, and given rise to a new form of internet-driven Aesopian language.

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What3words again

A friend's note:

https://what3words.com/

is an app that assigns a three-word combination to every 3-meter square in the world.

My dad's living room is at acid.tribe.dwell …. ;-)

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Register + Registration had a word-baby

Yesterday I got an email from the Voice Foundation with this header:

The body of the email started this way:

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Lexical demonetization

The OED's gloss for demonetization is "The action of demonetizing a type of coin, note, currency, or precious metal; (also) the condition of being demonetized", where the verb demonetize is glossed as "To deprive (a type of coin, note, currency, or precious metal) of its status as money; to withdraw from use as legal tender."

For those of us who retain a similar idea of what those words mean, this tweet may take a minute to figure out:

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