Archive for Words words words

In Case of Emergence…

From Kris V.:

The attached image is of a door in the LRSM building on Penn's campus this morning. The sign in the upper right made me think of your recent Language Log post about "emergent". It's probably just a typo, but I didn't hang around to see what might emerge from the door.

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Pipehitters

From former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo:

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Thinking outside the pants

Thomas Clayburn, "Realizing this is getting out of hand, Coq mulls new name for programming language", The Register 6/15/2021:

After three decades, Coq, a theorem-proving programming language developed by researchers in France, is being fitted for a new name because it has become impossible to ignore that it sounds like bawdy English slang.

Once referred to as CoC, short for Calculus of Constructions, the programming language became Coq when work on version 5 began in 1989.

The name – according to software engineer Théo Zimmermann's initial entry to the Coq GitHub wiki on April 6 – is a reference to the French word for "rooster," to the Calculus of Constructions, and to the contributions of Thierry Coquand, one of the creators of the language.

Coq also happens to sound like "cock," which while it means both "a male rooster" and "to tilt," can be used informally to refer to the male anatomy. And for some people, that deters community participation.

"This similarity has already led to some women turning away from Coq and others getting harassed when they said they were working on Coq," the project wiki, last updated on Friday, explains. "It also makes some English conversations about Coq with lay persons simply more difficult."

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A re-emergent meaning?

Jennifer Henderson, "UnitedHealthcare to Crack Down on 'Non-Emergent' ED Claims", MedPage Today 6/8/2021:

UnitedHealthcare plans to take a closer look at emergency department (ED) claims beginning July 1.

In a June network bulletin posted to its website, the insurer said that it will assess ED facility commercial claims to determine if an event was emergent or non-emergent. Claims determined to be non-emergent will be subject to no coverage or limited coverage.

ED claims will be evaluated on many factors, UnitedHealthcare said, including the patient's presenting problem, the intensity of the diagnostic services performed, and other patient complicating factors.

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Odoriferous Mandarin term for "copycat"

A gēnpìchóng 跟屁虫 (lit., "follow-fart-bug / worm") is somebody who tags along after someone else so as to smell his farts, i.e., someone who follows another person all the time, a copycat, a shadow, a flatterer, sycophant, boot / ass licker, kiss-ass, yes man.

And here's a cute little tutorial about how to be a gēnpìchóng:  

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New Sino- words in the OED

From the latest updates to the online OED, new senses added to these words:

Sinicism, n., sense 2: “A Chinese word, phrase, or idiom borrowed into, or introduced into a sentence in, another language.”

Sinitic, adj. and n., sense B: “The languages of East Asia considered collectively; spec. the branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family to which the Chinese dialects belong.”

Sino-Tibetan, adj. and n., sense A.2a: “Linguistics. Of or relating to a variety of the Tibetan language strongly influenced by Chinese, e.g. in having numerous Chinese loanwords or using…”

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Ultracrepidarian

I came upon this curious word by chance in the following article:

"Know your English — What is the meaning of ‘ultracrepidarian’?", by S. Upendran, in The Hindu (9/2/13; updated 6/2/16)

First, let us deal with the pronunciation of the word. The first two syllables are pronounced like the word ‘ultra’, and the following ‘crep’ rhymes with ‘prep’ and ‘rep’. The ‘i’ is like the ‘i’ in ‘bit’, ‘hit’, and ‘sit’, and the ‘dar’ is pronounced like the word ‘dare’. The word is pronounced ‘ul-tra-krep-i-DARE-ien’ with the stress on the fifth syllable. An ultracrepidarian is someone who is in the habit of giving advice on matters he himself knows nothing about — like a politician! This Latin word literally means ‘beyond the shoe’.

*My ultracrepidarian uncle will be spending two weeks with us.

The story goes that when the Greek painter Apellis displayed his beautiful painting of Alexander the Great, a shoemaker pointed out that the sandals in the painting did not have the required number of loops. The artist thanked him, and immediately set about making the required changes. Once they had been carried out, the emboldened shoemaker began to comment on other aspects of the painting — the shape of Alexander's legs, his robes, etc.

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Anti-Neanderthal prejudice?

“We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we’re able to get vaccines in people’s arms […] And the last thing, the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking, that, ‘In the meantime, everything’s fine. Take off your mask. Forget it.’ It still matters.”

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Xy McXface wins again

Mary Divine, "Plowy McPlowFace plows through the competition to win snowplow naming contest", Pioneer Press 3/2/2021:

After all the votes were tallied, it wasn’t even close. Plowy McPlowFace won the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s inaugural “Name a Snowplow” contest with 65,292 votes. The next-closest vote-getter was Ope, Just Gonna Plow Right Past Ya, which garnered 29,457 votes.

[For those who don't know ope,  Wiktionary glosses it as "(Midwest) an exclamation of surprise; oops", and Tod Van Luling discussed it at length a couple of years ago in the Huffington Post.]

Plowy McPlowFace will soon be plowing streets in the Metro District; Ope, Just Gonna Plow Right Past Ya will make its home in District 4 in west-central Minnesota.

The other winning names, in order of vote totals, and their future homes are: Duck Duck Orange Truck in District 1 (northeastern Minnesota); Plow Bunyan in District 2 (northwestern Minnesota); Snowbi Wan Kenobi in District 6 (southeastern Minnesota); F. Salt Fitzgerald in District 7 (south-central Minnesota); Darth Blader in District 3 (central Minnesota); and The Truck Formerly Known As Plow in District 8 (southwestern Minnesota).

MnDOT officials invited people in mid-December to submit possible names for snowplows. Among the submissions were a number of Minnesota-themed names, including Joe Plow-er, Justin More-snow, Kent Brrr-bek, Raspberry Brrr-et and Purple Snow.

One of the most popular suggestions was the phrase “Abolish ICE,” according to an analysis by the Minnesota Reformer, an independent news website, which obtained the almost 23,000 entries in a public-records request. The name, a play on the rallying cry of critics of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, ranked No. 2 among the entries, the Reformer determined.

But MnDOT officials excluded it from its list of 50 finalists.

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Coronawords

The Institut für Deutsche Sprache has been compiling a list of "Neuer Wortschatz rund um die Coronapandemie" (New Vocabulary about the Corona Pandemic). German morphology and orthography being as they are, these are mostly new pandemic-related compounds.

The list and its compilation are documented by Abby Young-Powell, "Coronaangst ridden? Overzoomed? Covid inspires 1,200 new German words", The Guardian 2/23/2021:

From coronamüde (tired of Covid-19) to Coronafrisur (corona hairstyle), a German project is documenting the huge number of new words coined in the last year as the language races to keep up with lives radically changed by the pandemic.

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Non-toxic dog whistles?

The OED's definition of the political sense of dog whistle is "A statement or expression which in addition to its ostensible meaning has a further interpretation or connotation intended to be understood only by a specific target audience", derived from the literal sense "A high-pitched whistle used in training dogs; (later) esp. one producing sounds at a frequency above the range of human hearing". The definitions at Merriam-Webster and Wiktionary are similar.

There seem to me to be a few things wrong these definitions, at least as the term dog whistle is generally used. One thing missing that the "further interpretation" is (viewed by user of the term dog whistle as) shameful. And one superfluous part of the definitions is the idea that the "further interpretation" is not understood outside the "target audience" — rather, the goal (as attributed to the dog whistler) seems to be more a matter of euphemism or deniability.

Scanning instances of dog whistle on Google News this morning, the first dozen or so of the examples seem to me to confirm my impressions.

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Phlegm

My sister Heidi and I agree that, though we dislike the substance, we like the word.  Somehow, the shape and sound of the word are captivating.  "Phlegm", with its five consonants and one vowel, rolls up out of your throat, flows across your tongue, and issues forth through your lips.  "Phlegm"!  What a singular word!

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Word of the decade

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