Archive for Words words words

A charlatanistic malapropism returns

In "At the rind of the debate" we noted an odd use of the word exegesis in the Charlatan  Magazine: "the foreign-born population has grown by 4.5 million under Biden's exegesis". Readers diagnosed this as a malapropism for aegis, and another example from a more recent issue of the same publication ("Nightingale", 3/17/2024) confirms the analysis:

While a woman's role within the home was written into the original 1937 constitution under the exegesis of the Catholic Church in Ireland, 2015's Gender Recognition Act and Marriage Act has re-imagined these roles within the once traditional home.

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At the rind of the debate

Here are a couple of puzzling word-choices from Charlatan Magazine, sent to me by someone who was somehow put on their mailing list.

This one is from "The Politics of Immigration", 3/3/2024 [emphasis added]:

While Biden patrols the Texas border (taking a wide berth around the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas) he assuages the American voter whose ire toward illegal immigrants under his presidency has doubled. “There were 49.5 million foreign-born residents in the United States (legal and illegal) in 2023,” according to the Center for Immigration Statistics, and the foreign-born population has grown by 4.5 million under Biden's exegesis.

My correspondent identified "exegesis" as a malapropism, but we couldn't figure out what it might be a substitution for. I guess the author might have meant something like "Biden's interpretation (of immigration policy)", though there's nothing else in the article to raise the question of alternative interpretations of such laws or policies.

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A Video Game Decoding Ancient Languages

Xinyi Ye, who sent this to me, thought the idea of multiple languages and the Tower of Babel in a game would be quite cliché, but this one is actually good.  You will be surprised at what you see and hear.

This is the official trailer:

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Lunar New Year's greetings, part 1

A bit belated, but better late than never.

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Spread of "inclusive x"

Merriam-Webster's online dictionary entry for folx defines it as a re-spelling of folks "used especially to explicitly signal the inclusion of groups commonly marginalized".

The etymology is given as "respelling of folks, with x after MX.LATINX".

The entry also notes that the first known occurrence was in 1833, without clarifying that older uses (and many recent ones) are examples of eye dialect rather than inclusionary reference.

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A (troop / troupe of) dragon(s) tromping / flying

This is the theme of the forthcoming CCTV Spring Festival Gala to ring in the new year of 2024:


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"Toil tackler"

The bio from a recent talk announcement described the speaker as a "Production Engineer …, a job which, for the most part, means he is a professional toil tackler."

That's a striking phrase, and one that was new to me. I soon discovered that it's new to Google as well, though the search turned up the source of its constituent words in Chapter 6, "Eliminating Toil", from a Workbook associated with  Google's Site Reliability Engineering (=SRE) page.

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2023 WOTYs, stage 1

Choices for the 2023 Word Of The Year are starting to come out —

  1. The Macquarie Dictionary chose cozzie livs ;
  2. Merriam-Webster chose authentic;
  3. Oxford University Press has announced their choice, but it's "UNDER EMBARGO until 00.01 GMT Monday 4 December 2023".
    So we'll let you in on the secret tomorrow… [Update — it's rizz …]

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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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