Archive for Words words words

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (2)

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 …. ;-)

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (16)

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:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (2)

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:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (11)

Mind your PPs and QQs

Photograph of a menu board outside a Chinese restaurant:


(From an anonymous contributor)

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (17)

"Yeet"

Today I learned that yeet means (among other things) "To discard an item at a high velocity". I didn't learn this from the not-very-reliable Urban Dictionary, but from Umar Shakir, "Tom Brady says the next sideline Surface he yeets will cost him: Microsoft’s star tablet may finally be safe on the sideline", The Verge 12/29/2021:

On the Sunday Night Football stage, December 19th, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers were swept for the second consecutive regular season against the Saints — a frustrating shut-out loss that had Brady spiking a poor Microsoft Surface tablet on the sideline.

Now, per Brady on his Let’s Go podcast that aired Monday, the NFL is not going to let the Surface abuse continue. Should the seven-time Super Bowl champion throw the tablet again, he will be fined. “I did get warned from the NFL about that so… I won’t throw another Surface.” Brady said.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (35)

Болельщик, fan, fancy, Phans, …

Slava Malamud goes on to explain the Russian relationship between fandom and pain:

The word "bolel'shchik" tells you all you need to know about the Russian approach. We did adopt the English word (in the form of "fanaty"), but it describes soccer hooligans exclusively.
"Bolel'shchik" is ours. Oh so very, very ours.
The root word is "bol", which means "pain"

"Bolet" is a verb derived from it. Its meaning is "to be ill." Therefore, "bolel'shchik" is someone who feels constant pain and/or is very sick. However, the word applies exclusively to sports supporters. A regular ill person is "bol'noi."
How Dostoyevskian is this shit?

The prevailing emotion of a Russian football fan (and this is where the word originated) is, of course, pain. Constant, unyielding feelings of sickness and discomfort that can only be understood if you ever sat on a wooden bench to watch a 0-0 slog in half-frozen mud in Saratov.

To support a sports team, in Russian culture, primarily means to experience pain, to be emotionally unwell, to subject one's mental health to voluntary mistreatment. To be unhealthily addicted to something bad.
Don't ever ask me why I root for the Buffalo Bills and Sabres again.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (15)

Brew

Making coffee this morning made me think about brewing — not the process, but the English verb brew and its semantic evolution. In particular, it made me wonder again about nativist versions of semantic atomism, which hold that word meanings are (perhaps structured) collections of innate atomic features. Versions of these ideas go back thousands of years, but their most prominent recent exponent was Jerry Fodor.

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy's article puts it this way:

Fodor was also a staunch defender of nativism about the structure and contents of the human mind, arguing against a variety of empiricist theories and famously arguing that all lexical concepts are innate. Fodor vigorously argued against all versions of conceptual role semantics in philosophy and psychology, and articulated an alternative view he calls “informational atomism,” according to which lexical concepts are unstructured “atoms” that have their content in virtue of standing in certain external, “informational” relations to entities in the environment.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (35)

"Just another day"

Andrew Gelman sent a link to blog post (with a rather long title): "Just another day at the sausage factory . . . It’s just funny how regression discontinuity analyses routinely produce these ridiculous graphs and the authors and journals don’t even seem to notice", with the note "You might enjoy the statistics content in the main post, but I'm sending to you because of the phrase-origin discussion".

That discussion happened in a comment asking about the origins of the phrase "another day at the sausage factory", and Andrew's response was

I have no idea where the phrase comes from! I didn’t even know it was a phrase, at least I don’t think so. It derives from the saying that you don’t want to see sausage or legislation being made . . . ummm, let’s google *sausage legislation* . . . here’s Quote Investigator which is always my favorite source for this sort of thing. They cite Fred Shapiro who dug up the earliest known version: “The Daily Cleveland Herald, March 29, 1869, quoted lawyer-poet John Godfrey Saxe that ‘Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made,’ and this may be the true origin of the saying.”

As to the exact phrase, “Just another day at the sausage factory”: maybe I read it somewhere and it lodged in my unconscious? A quick google turns it up in various places, for example this news article by Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times. So my guess is that it’s just a natural formulation that has been independently coined many times, derived from the well known saying about sausage and legislation.

I don't have anything to add to Quote Investigator's story about sausages, but there's more to be said about "Just another day".

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (14)

Kleptogenesis?

Lorraine Boissoneault, "Genetic Mystery: The all-female salamanders of the Great Lakes", Great Lakes Now 11/2/2021:

Looking at them, you wouldn’t guess that the unisexual Ambystoma salamanders are any different than the other members of what was once considered their group.

These interlopers were previously grouped with five other mole salamander species: the tiger salamanders with yellow stripes; the blue-spotted salamander, marked as its name suggests; the brownish smallmouth salamander and Jefferson salamander; and the pale streamside salamander. All five species have lithe, wet bodies, bulbous eyes, and cutely smiling faces.

What sets the mysterious unnamed Ambystoma species apart is something that can only be seen by looking at their genetics. They’re an all-female lineage—and they steal genetic material from all five other species of salamander in their region, a feat that would seem impossible if not for the fact that these lady salamanders have been around for more than 5 million years.

“We often get asked, ‘What is the species name for these organisms?’ And the answer is that we don’t have one because they don’t play by the rules of what we would typically call a species,” said Rob Denton, professor of biology at Marian University.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (23)

Transpoosion

A new (to me) word: transpoosion, meaning "fecal microbiota transplant", by way of blending poo and transfusion.

I'm not sure who invented it when, though it's clearly been around for a decade or more.

Are there other blends where a single syllable of a Latinate (or similar) compound is replaced by a monosyllabic word from ordinary language, differing only in a single consonant or vowel sound? It's easy to make up bad examples, like transpiguration, blending pig and transfiguration.

 

Comments (11)

Nominations for Japanese words of the year

Mezurashii / めずらしい / 珍しい ("amazing; wonderful; rare").  Love 'em!  Such creativity!  Such imagination!

"Japan’s Words of 2021: Nominees Announced for Annual List"
Language Nov 4, 2021

On November 4, the publisher Jiyū Kokumin Sha announced its list of nominees for the words and phrases best representing the year 2021. Our complete list of the nominees with explanations.
New Words for a Pandemic Year

Each year Jiyū Kokumin Sha, the publisher of Gendai yōgo no kiso chishiki (Basic Knowledge on Contemporary Terminology), an annual guide to the latest terms in use in the Japanese language, holds its contest to decide the Words of the Year. For 2021, the nominating committee selected a list of 30 terms that have made themselves a part of the spoken and written landscape in Japan this year.

….

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (7)

Word of the day: Agnotology

Cecilia Tomori, "Scientists: don’t feed the doubt machine", Nature 11/2/2021:

Throughout the pandemic, I’ve been saddened at how science has been hijacked. Arguments around herd immunity exemplify this: proponents claimed that acquiring immunity by infection was fine for most people and also that communities were well on their way to achieving herd immunity. The messages downplayed dangers for those with high risks of exposure or severe illness. Technical arguments over infection rates silently cemented the assumption that disabled or immunocompromised people did not merit collective protective action; nor did the workers whose jobs required dangerous public contact.

Although many scientific champions did provide appropriate context, I watched several respected colleagues step into debates on when, or if, society would reach herd immunity without realizing that the discussion was not simply a scientific debate. Their too-narrow focus unintentionally helped to promote controversy and doubt, and that ultimately impeded an effective public-health response. The same happened around mask use, vaccination and school policies. This helped to shift public opinion on which public-health measures were ‘acceptable’: the fewer the better.

The field of agnotology (the study of deliberate spreading of confusion) shows how ignorance and doubt can be purposefully manufactured. Famous scholars include David Michaels, Marion Nestle and Naomi Oreskes. In September, Katharine Hayhoe, chief scientist at the Nature Conservancy, a non-profit organization based in Arlington, Virginia, quoted environmentalist Bill McKibben on Twitter in regard to climate change: “We spent a long time thinking we were engaged in an argument about data and reason …. But now we realize it’s a fight over money and power.” Hayhoe elaborated: “‘Objections’ were always, entirely, professionally, and verrrry cleverly couched in scientific terms. They [industry] focused their lasers on the science and like cats we followed their pointer and their lead.” Some elements of manufactured doubt in this pandemic might seem fuzzier, especially when vested interests are not always clear. Nonetheless, the same lessons apply.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (16)