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Japanese words that are dying out: focus on diabetes

From The Japan Times:

A foray into the realm of Japanese ‘dead words’

Trendy buzzwords tend to be most at risk of dying out as they often reflect ideas and trends that are fleeting.

By Tadasu Takahashi
Staff writer
Oct 31, 2023

Sometimes whole languages go extinct, more often certain words within languages cease to exist as part of the living lexicon.  There are political, demographic, and other socioeconomic reasons why languages disappear.  The reasons why individual words die out are related more to fashion — in culture, science, and similar emotional and intellectual reasons.

Tadasu Takahashi's interesting article provides some specific examples from contemporary Japanese language.

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I recently learned about the lexical blend calimony, which refers to a planned multi-million-dollar annual payment from UCLA (the University of California, Los Angeles) to Berkeley (the University of California, Berkeley, known in athletic contexts as "California" or "Cal"). Why will this payment exist? And why is it a metaphorical form of alimony?

Short form: As of next year, UCLA is leaving the Pac-12 for the Big 10, and 7 others of the 12 schools that gave the Pac-12 its name are also leaving. As a result, the Pac-12 will probably vanish, at least as a source of broadcast revenue. Because UCLA and Berkeley are both part of the state of California university system, the budgetary consequences… …don't matter in detail to the history of the lexical blend, but help to explain why the alimony metaphor makes sense.

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Yesterday, Randoh Sallihall from sent this note:

Susie Dent has an ever growing Twitter following of 1,1 million unique word lovers to whom she shares her daily word of the day. Word search engine went through Susie Dent's whole Twitter history and analyzed what are the most liked, shared and commented words of the day she has posted.

List of Susie Dent's most popular words of the day:

  1. Word of the day is ‘ingordigiousness’: extreme greed; an insatiable desire for wealth at any cost. (141387 likes)
  2. Word of the day is 'maw-worm' (19th century): one who insists that they have done nothing wrong, despite evidence to the contrary. (114681 likes)
  3. Word of the day is ‘sparple’ (14th century): to deflect unwanted attention from one thing by making a big deal of another. (109082 likes)
  4. Word of the day is ‘recrudescence’ (17th century): the return of something unpleasant after a period of relief. (103422 likes)
  5. Word of the day is ‘malversation’ (16th century): the corrupt administration of power. (92425 likes)
  6. Word of the day is 'filipendulous' (19th century): hanging by a thread. (88913 likes)
  7. Word of the day is ‘circumlocutionist’: one who consistently speaks in a roundabout way in order to avoid addressing a question directly. (77277 likes)
  8. Word of the day is ‘spuddle’ (17th century): to work ineffectively; to be extremely busy whilst achieving absolutely nothing. (75219 likes)
  9. Word of the day is 'sequaciousness' (17th century): the blinkered, unreasoning, and slavish following of another, no matter where it leads. (69710 likes)
  10. Word of the day is Zugzwang [tzoog-tzwung]: a situation in chess (and life) in which a move must be made, but each possible one will make the situation worse. (68422 likes)

A spokesperson for commented on the findings:

"Susie Dent sometimes uses current events to post a word of the day that is relevant to what is happening in the UK. This is why her most popular words of the day are likely also related to past events where she really understood the mood of the crowd. A great example of this is the word 'maw-worm' posted on Apr 12, 2022 her most retweeted word of the day ever (a dig at Boris Johnson during 'Partygate'). In general people love unique and obscure words they have never heard before. It spikes curiosity and it is really fun trying to use such words yourself. Resulting in people laughing and then asking what does 'snollygoster' mean?"

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"Multi-hyphenate spaces"

Alex Bauman sent in this real-estate ad from Singapore:

For the fully hyper-hyphenated experience, click here

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You will be trespassed automatically

Bob Shackleton sent in this photo of a sign:

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Today I learned a new word

The new-to-me word: assembloid.

It occurred in the second (of 20!) bullet points that the blurb for a new publication, Brain Organoid & Systems Neuroscience Journal, lists under the heading

Specific areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Brain organogenesis and Neuronal cultures
  • Methods for generating brain assembloids

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Nancy Kathryn Walecki, "Sound as Ever: Gram Parsons and Harvard’s hand in country rock", Harvard Magazine July-August 2023:

During Parsons’s Burritos era, Thomas left Harvard to write his dissertation in a cabin on Mount Baldy outside Los Angeles. Now more of an older brother to Parsons than a proctor, he would take study breaks with him in town: “It was a whole different world from Heidegger and Wittgenstein.” Once, they met Janis Joplin in a nightclub parking lot. “This is my adviser from Harvard. He’s into phenomenology,” Gram said. “Wow,” replied Joplin. “I believe in ghosts, too.”



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On June 1 in Iowa, Donald Trump gave a speech in which he attacked Ron DeSantis from several angles. One of them was DeSantis' variation in pronunciation of his last name (see "Pronouncing 'DeSantis'", 6/3/2023), which Trump characterized as "changing his name", while introducing a puzzling (but promising?) new linguistic term, "syllabolic":

But uh he's going around saying "oh well I can serve for eight years
it takes eight years to fix it".
No he made a big mistake —
uh just like you don't change your name
in the middle of a uh election.

Changed his name in the middle of the election, you don't do that.
You do it before, or after, but ideally you don't do it at all.

I liked it before anyway, I liked his name better before,
I don't like the name change, shall we tell him that?

uh but uh most people don't know what I mean,
no he's actually sort of changed a name.

It's uh syllabolic, they call it,
wants a syllabolic name.

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The rise (and fall?) of shiesties

Last month I learned a new word, shiesty — which rhymes with feisty, as if it were written "sheisty" — because shiesties have been banned on the local transit system ("SEPTA"):

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Calling Benjamin Lee Whorf

What do a baker, a shepherd, and a drummer have in common?

You can add an orchestra conductor, Harry Potter, and a drill sergeant.

Hint: this is in French.

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A new kanji for tapioca

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Although Google now has "about 27,700 results" for seacuterie, this word doesn't seem to have made it into any of the standard dictionaries yet. But already in 2017, Fine Dining Lovers announced ("Seacuterie, When Salami Rhymes with 'Sea-lami'") that "today’s latest craze is 'seacuterie'", and went on to survey the gastronomical metaphors involved at greater length, e.g.

Markus Glocker's octupus [sic] pastrami at Bâtard in TriBeCa (New York) is unanimously decreed to be a masterpiece which, at first sight, looks like a soppressata, but in actual fact is much more involved. This leads us into deeper waters, where fish, shellfish and mollusc-based dishes are united under the banner of seacuterie which, more often than not, draws inspiration from cold cuts, such as ham, mortadella, sausages, soppressata, n’duja [sic], and cured fatback.

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Good bad

Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, known as Bad Bunny, has been big in the media recently, from the first-ever Spanish cover of Time Magazine, to headlining Coachella — against the background of literally millions of pages featuring his fashion choices and his sayings.

According to a 2019 All Things Considered piece ("How Bad Bunny Skipped Categories And Skyrocketed To Fame"), "A self-described class clown, Bad Bunny got his stage moniker from the time he was forced as a child to wear a bunny rabbit costume. He was pretty angry about it, but the name stuck."

From a linguistic perspective, there's a lot to be said about Bad Bunny's role in normalizing Spanish among English-dominant Americans. And the Puerto Rican features of his lyrics are also interesting.

But today, my topic is the "bad" part of his stage name.

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