Subdisciplinary alignments

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In our "unfair but funny" series —  Nathan Sanders has  provided an Alignment Chart for subdisciplines of linguistics:



44 Comments

  1. languagehat said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 8:35 am

    The only unfair part is that it omits historical linguistics (the Best Kind of Linguistics™).

    [(myl) Also dialectology and a few others…]

  2. Jerry Friedman said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 8:43 am

    What's the alignment of historical linguistics?

  3. Nathan Sanders said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 9:10 am

    I didn't have room for it, but I would probably categorize it as Lawful Neutral, since historical change is generally the result of sociolinguistic variation becoming regular.

  4. Jenny Chu said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 9:16 am

    Historical linguistics is the dungeon master….

  5. bks said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 9:32 am

    The coordinates of Semantics are far too Northwest.

  6. Alex said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 9:48 am

    Wow dungeons and dragons!

  7. languagehat said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 9:53 am

    Historical linguistics is the dungeon master

    FTW!

  8. tony prost said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 11:00 am

    history depends on who you ask!

  9. ardj said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 12:01 pm

    @languagehat @9.53am
    I have consulted two dictionaries of abbreviations / acronyms, and, even after rejecting, e.g. Faith Through Worship and Free the Wales, I am none the wiser as to LH's use of the 'term' (or possibly simply 'quale') FTW. Should I be reading it backwards ?

  10. languagehat said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 12:19 pm

    Goodness, we live in such fragmented speech communities. In this context, FTW = for the win.

  11. Tom Gadd said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 12:43 pm

    @ardj – the first Google result would have helped you.

  12. J. W. Brewer said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 1:40 pm

    In normal/unmarked/mainstream AmEng, by which of course I mean the version learned in our younger years by speakers of my own generational cohort and sociocultural background, the default meaning of FTW was and is "fuck the world." I understand it's no use peeving about The Young People Today and their Confusing Internet Slang, but it's imho not helpful for hommes d'un certain age like languagehat (who is older than I am) to affect the slang of the young. It's as if Noam Chomsky back in the '80's suddenly started saying "grody to the max" in order to seem au courant.

  13. languagehat said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 1:43 pm

    Oh, I agree, in theory, but I didn't think it was "the slang of the young," I thought it was by now normal/unmarked/mainstream AmEng. Live and learn!

  14. David Marjanović said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 2:19 pm

    fml (always lowercase) is definitely fuck my life, though.

  15. GAC said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 3:23 pm

    I have said this a couple other places, phonetics can be a little evil. We will happily shove a camera down your throat.

  16. MattF said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 4:14 pm

    The fonts are interesting. Is the 'sociolinguistics' font 'Aggravated Comic Sans'?

  17. Vanya said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 5:01 pm

    I thought it was by now normal/unmarked/mainstream AmEng.

    So do I. I believe I am a year younger or so than J.W. Brewer and attended the same East Coast University. I am unfamiliar with any usage of "FTW" as "fuck the world". "For the Win" seems obvious to me.

  18. languagehat said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 5:19 pm

    Thanks, I'm glad to be reassured that my sprachgefühl is not made entirely of sprachge-fail!

  19. Nathan Sanders said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 5:21 pm

    My reasoning for each of the font choices:

    phonology/phonetics: I wanted phonetics to have a very decorated look with lots of embellishments (but still legible) and phonology to be exactly the opposite, just a pure raw sans serif. So, I went with Curlz MT and Helvetica.

    semantics/syntax: These are classic related fields, so I chose the same classic font for both, Times New Roman, using upright for semantics (reflecting its "neutral" alignment) and italics for syntax (for all those light verbs, traces, little pros, wh, etc.).

    language documentation: I went with Bradley Hand Bold, to look like handwritten field notes.

    computational linguistics: This needed a monospace font, of course. I chose Source Code Variable for its legibility.

    pragmatics: I wanted a font that had some sort of shadowy or ghost-like effect, to represent the hidden meanings that underlie our overt message. Desdemona is a nice classic font that had one of the kinds of effects I had in mind, but this is the one I probably spent the most time thinking about, and I think I could have chosen something better.

    sociolinguistics: I wanted a font that had some variation in stroke width and character rotation, and Sand fit the bill perfectly.

    psycholinguistics: What better choice for a Chaotic Evil font than Comic Sans?

  20. John W Cowan said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 5:48 pm

    In normal/unmarked/mainstream AmEng, by which of course I mean the version learned in our younger years by speakers of my own generational cohort and sociocultural background, the default meaning of FTW was and is "fuck the world."

    I am 59, and I literally never heard of that meaning until today, nor has my wife, who's 75.

  21. J.W. Brewer said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 6:10 pm

    I respectfully refer my interlocutors to The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, which agrees with my own ideolect re FTW as "fuck the world," with citations from 1972 to 2002. See also this interesting bit (cited on wiktionary) from a book published in 2003: "Most people," John said, "think it means 'Fuck the world.' But to a real biker, it means 'Forever two wheels'."

    The "for the win" sense apparently arose in the "gaming" subculture which includes some number of Americans my age, but not me, since I got off that particular bus around the time Space Invaders was being succeeded by Asteroids as the state of the art. Can anyone supply a cite for that sense in the google books corpus earlier than 2005 (when it pops up in the learned reference work Massively Multiplayer Games for Dummies)?

  22. Ann said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 6:33 pm

    Where does morphology fit into this? Or does it not make sense?

    [(myl) I'll let Nathan Sanders answer that — but the short answer is that there are only nine boxes in the meme. You could go to a 5×5 alignment chart, though the extra rows ("moral" and "impure") and columns ("social" and "rebel") are not canon, and don't really make much sense. And anyhow then you'd have to add 25-9 = 16 more subdisciplines.]

  23. languagehat said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 6:57 pm

    I respectfully refer my interlocutors to The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, which agrees with my own ideolect re FTW as "fuck the world," with citations from 1972 to 2002. … Can anyone supply a cite for that sense in the google books corpus earlier than 2005 (when it pops up in the learned reference work Massively Multiplayer Games for Dummies)?

    While I would be the last person to discourage lexicographical research, I trust your point is not that people should not use it today because it doesn't accord with out-of-date slang dictionaries and memories.

  24. J.W. Brewer said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 7:15 pm

    People should use whatever words and expressions they like, as long as they are willing to run the risk of being misunderstood (as indeed happened upthread) as well as the risk of being perceived as at least mildly incongruous if they use the jargon or slang of a subculture with which they do not appear to be personally affiliated. Perhaps some given bit of internet-insider jargon or slang has now spread so widely that the relevant subculture has turned into "everyone in the Anglophone world with internet access"; perhaps not. And perhaps different members of the broader language community will have different perceptions as to whether a particular idiom is still marked as subculture-specific or has fully gone mainstream. These are empirical questions which I guess fall within the purview of the chaotic neutral subdiscipline?

  25. Mark P said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 8:17 pm

    I'm a really old guy, just turned 68, and although I have not seen FTW, I pretty quickly figured it out through context.

  26. Ray said,

    May 26, 2018 @ 9:28 pm

    yeah, the font choices are weird. I would go with comic sans for everything. just to be real and tongue in cheek.

  27. cameron said,

    May 27, 2018 @ 12:42 am

    I'm with J.W. Brewer on "FTW". It immediately and obviously means "fuck the world". Whenever I see it and that meaning doesn't fit, I remember that it has recently (within the past ten years or so) acquired another sense, and it takes me a moment to figure out what that new sense is.

  28. Chas Belov said,

    May 27, 2018 @ 2:50 am

    I never use FTW in either sense but see it first as "fuck the world" and if the context doesn't fit then remember "for the win." But my perception is the former tends to stand alone and the latter tends to end a sentence, which also helps speed up disambiguation. It's taking me less and less time to remember "for the win."

    I'm much older than the generations that developed "My bad," and "I heard that!" but they're useful phrases so I use them.

  29. Philip Taylor said,

    May 27, 2018 @ 6:15 am

    Am I alone, I wonder, in finding the repeated use of the F-word, spelled out in full, in the contributions to this thread an unnecessary and unwanted addition to what is normally an intelligent forum for linguistic discussion. I know what "WTF" means, and I am not so puritanical as to completely avoid its use in moments of severe stress (e.g., being nearly side-swiped by a continental lorry driver who cannot see my car from his "wrong-side" driving seat) but I really do not think that its repeated use here adds anything of value to the forum, nor do I need to know (or care) what "FTW" means. And I would respectfully disagree with Chas Belove (above) regarding "my bad" — I not only do not find it "useful", I finds its use annoying and grating : for centuries, mea culpa has been used to convey much the sense same as "my bad", and is (or should be) familiar to any moderately well-informed reader, whereas "my bad", on first encounter, can only lead the reader to mentally ask "my bad what "?.

  30. Jon W said,

    May 27, 2018 @ 6:20 am

    https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/50404/origin-of-the-phrase-for-the-win finds first usage of FTW/for the win in 2003. That said, I'm 59; I'm familiar with that usage; and to my knowledge I've never encountered FTW/fuck the world. So had I been in languagehat's shoes, I wouldn't have been aware of the conflict J.W.Brewer described. I don't think, though, that a phrase that first appeared fifteen years ago can properly be described as the of-the-moment language of the young; the people who originated that usage are by now as out-of-touch as I am.

  31. David Marjanović said,

    May 27, 2018 @ 11:33 am

    Am I alone, I wonder, in finding the repeated use of the F-word, spelled out in full, in the contributions to this thread an unnecessary and unwanted addition to what is normally an intelligent forum for linguistic discussion.

    …Yes?

    Why shouldn't we mention the word when we're talking about it? We're not having some kind of temper tantrum or other "moments of severe stress" here.

    nor do I need to know (or care) what "FTW" means.

    I, for one, feel enriched by the knowledge that "for the win" isn't the only meaning it has ever had. I may even become more careful in my use of it depending on the likely audience.

    for centuries, mea culpa has been used to convey much the sense same as "my bad"

    No. Mea culpa means "my fault" (…BTW, don't you have "my fault" in English?), "my moral fault", "my evil personality trait that I need to get under control". My bad refers more to sloppiness, "my confusion or typo and its unintended consequences".

  32. Chas Belov said,

    May 27, 2018 @ 3:14 pm

    @Philip Taylor: Actually, I find frequent of the words "fuck," "shit," etc., to be jarring, and do notice them, and prefer that they be used (1) as intensifiers in time of stress so that they actually do reduce stress or (2) when discussing them as language, as is being done here. I find them odder in the office than do some of my younger colleagues but don't consider it that big a deal so I let it pass without joining in except when things rise to (1) above. Spontaneity/surprise can lower the threshhold, which for me the go-to word tends to be "shit," but sans that I have used (recently) "excrement pile" in the office to refer to a particular cock-up. (I'm not British, but it's a useful term so I'm going to use it here rather than the f-word.)

    [(myl) Context matters — this joke was current 50 years ago in a repair shop I worked in:

    A: Hey, could you pass me the wrench?
    B: Say what?
    A: Please pass me the wrench.
    B: Huh?
    A: Pass me the fucking wrench!
    B: Sure, why didn't you say so?

    ]

    As for "mea culpa" vs. "my bad," I consider them different shades of "my fault," usable in different situations, and no different from the multitude of English words and phrases with synonyms that convey precise shades of meaning. While I'm guessing that "mea culpa" sounds casual to you, any use of a Latin expression sounds more formal to me.

    For instance, you misspelled my last name (I could have said "surname" but this is a blog, not a scientific paper). While you would probably reply "mea culpa," had I been the offender, I would probably have replied "sorry" or "my bad."

    "My bad" is actually already productive. I once heard "your bad" from a wrongee when a wronger failed to apologize or acknowledge their error.

  33. Gwen Katz said,

    May 27, 2018 @ 6:52 pm

    https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/50404/origin-of-the-phrase-for-the-win finds first usage of FTW/for the win in 2003.

    Jives with my experience. It was being used when I was in high school, and I graduated in 2004. So it's about 15 years old and definitely more established than just teen slang, since the abbreviation is itself a teenager.

    Can anyone supply a cite for that sense in the google books corpus earlier than 2005 (when it pops up in the learned reference work Massively Multiplayer Games for Dummies)?

    Questioning the usefulness of dating internet slang by its appearance in books, but given the 2-3 year lag time in publishing, this lines up pretty nicely too.

    Am I alone, I wonder, in finding the repeated use of the F-word, spelled out in full, in the contributions to this thread an unnecessary and unwanted addition to what is normally an intelligent forum for linguistic discussion.

    Yep. It's just you.

    Context matters — this joke was current 50 years ago in a repair shop I worked in:

    A: Hey, could you pass me the wrench?
    B: Say what?
    A: Please pass me the wrench.
    B: Huh?
    A: Pass me the fucking wrench!
    B: Sure, why didn't you say so?

    This joke comes from Russian, doesn't it? The version I've heard is that a factory owner bans мат, only to have productivity suddenly drop steeply; it turns out the factory workers don't know the non-profane word for anything.

    [(myl) I first heard it in a U.S. Army aircraft repair shop in rural Virginia, from a middle-aged civilian mechanic. It strikes me as the kind of joke that works in pretty much any language and culture where taboo words are routine in certain kinds of work environments, and therefore has probably spread widely no matter who first invented it.

    Some anthropologist has probably developed a theory about why cussing is routine among workers in certain occupations.]

  34. Nathan Sanders said,

    May 27, 2018 @ 10:26 pm

    As for Ann's question above about morphology, I would probably classify it as Lawful Neutral, using the rough guidelines I kept in mind when making the chart. Morphology is generally more deterministic (Lawful) than stochastic (Chaotic) and doesn't obviously lean towards either speaker benefit (Good) or speaker detriment (Bad), but rather hovers in between: expressing meaning is Good, but meaning can also be Evilly masked with null morphemes, syncretism, etc.

    I could also see an argument for grouping it with syntax (wherever one believes syntax should go), given that there is no easy distinction between word combinations and morpheme combinations, at least not without a clear definition of "word".

  35. Emily said,

    May 28, 2018 @ 10:35 am

    Neutral Good checking in. +1 to Historical Linguistics being the DM.

  36. RfP said,

    May 28, 2018 @ 12:04 pm

    I was thinking of using the word "gonzo" this morning and realized that it no longer reaches the level of pungent aptness that it did in the decade or so after it was first used in the late '60s or early '70s.

    This made me wonder what term would be more appropriate in today's vernacular. Given the discussion on this post, I think it would be nice to have an online (and therefore always up-to-date) dictionary of au courant equivalents for the bon mots of the past.

    Sort of an Urban Dictionary on historical principles.

  37. Chandra said,

    May 28, 2018 @ 2:54 pm

    Are the people who read "FTW" as "fuck the world" the same ones who read "LOL" as "lots of love"?

  38. Chas Belov said,

    May 28, 2018 @ 4:01 pm

    While one person doth not a representative sample make, I read "FTW" first as "fuck the world" and LOL as "laugh out loud." I was not even aware of "LOL" as "lots of love."

  39. Chas Belov said,

    May 28, 2018 @ 4:29 pm

    Oops, that could have been unclear due to the parallel construction. Let's try again:

    While one person doth not a representative sample make, I read "FTW" first as "fuck the world" and LOL exclusively as "laugh out loud." I was not even aware of "LOL" as "lots of love."

  40. Kenny Easwaran said,

    May 28, 2018 @ 5:35 pm

    I remember running into "FTW" a few times and trying to figure out what it meant by relating it to "WTF", which didn't help.

    Nowadays we also have "tfw" for "that feeling when". I'm pretty sure the other three permutations of those letters don't have as strong a meaning as these three, but I'm not certain.

  41. richardelguru said,

    May 29, 2018 @ 6:32 am

    For historical linguistics wouldn't it need to be a four-dimensional chart?

  42. Rodger C said,

    May 29, 2018 @ 12:03 pm

    And it's richardelguru FTW!

  43. Andreas Johansson said,

    June 1, 2018 @ 6:09 am

    Do young people today actually say "for the win"? I sort of thought it was oldfashioned by now, used mostly by people like me who were young fifteen years ago.

  44. Dating Online Definition - Milk and Cookies said,

    June 4, 2018 @ 2:02 pm

    […] Subdisciplinary alignments – Questioning the usefulness of dating internet slang by its appearance. […]

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