On Language
9

Big Words Bad, Gone Soon

"Big words can be tough on relationships. Messy versus neat, early bird versus night owl—add to this list language junkies versus those with a tweet-ready vocabulary. The problems that big words cause are overlooked. Can people who enjoy using big and obscure words, and those who are annoyed by them, get through to each other? Technology is largely to blame for big words' fade out. We are being conditioned to communicate faster and in shorter bursts. There isn't room for big words in a text or a tweet or even a quickly dashed-off email. We're communicating across so many different channels that, by sheer necessity, our [...]

1

You Are Probably Using 'Kudos' Wrong

"The real problem with kudos, however, isn’t grammatical. It’s socio-politico-cultural. Not to put too fine a point on it, but few of us are heroes, and little that gets done today deserves good old-fashioned ancient kudos. A pat on the back, a raised glass, a shout-out on social media maybe, but none of those are the real thing."

2

Innovation Abounds

"In the last three months, CEOs of S&P 500 companies have put the 'innovation' word on Peony & Blush Suede perfume, premium potash and higher-alcohol Miller beer. "Innovation" also describes Dun & Bradstreet credit reports and PetSmart's temporary tattoos for pets. Back in 2007, 99 companies in the S&P 500 mentioned innovation in their third-quarter conference calls, according to reviews of transcripts from Capital IQ. This year the number was 197."

6

Are You Using This Correct Word?

Look, when couples in Cobble Hill start calling their children "Amongst" then we can complain. Until then, chill out, it is just a word.

0

Slutbag Is No Ordinary Word

"News Organizations Struggle With The Word 'Slutbag'"

3

Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz Cut

"Call it linguistic precision engineering. The German language permits the creation of words of endless length, many of which refer to laws. Now the country has lost its longest official word following the repeal of a complex law regarding mad cow disease — and is seeking a new one." —What are the Germans going to do now that 'Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz' is no longer an acceptable word? And what did 'Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz' even mean? As the article goes on to explain, 'Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz' can be loosely translated as 'the strange condition in which, due to skin tone or softness of features, a person somehow appears to have been Photoshopped into a picture no [...]

2

Writer Asking For Trouble

"People who do not belong to certain groups are asked to defer in their use of certain words to those who do (the practice is known in some quarters as ‘privilege-checking’). Words and phrases are ring-fenced in order to strip them of their ‘stereotypical’ and ‘clichéd’ implications. Recently the use of such terms as ‘mental’ or ‘Brazilian transsexuals’ was said to feed into a stereotype. Of course it does: language is a work in progress and an accumulation of conscious and unconscious usage. It’s not surprising that metaphors and analogies tend towards stereotypes; clichés are ways of using language that have proved useful over time. The words we use every [...]

1

Killing @

"On its own, killing @ is a small move. Few other social media networks use @ as a way of indicating who you're talking to. But at Twitter, @ is at the core of a crucial debate within the company about how to get Twitter's user-base growing again. Some people — including CEO Dick Costolo — think the shorthand codes used on Twitter may be deterring new users from joining the site. Unless you already know what they mean, terms like @, #, RT, MT and #FF are meaningless."

1

Words Shortened

Here's a little dictionary of Twitter abbreviations that also functions as an illustration of how we are getting stupider in real time.

2

You Won't Believe Whose Feelings Are Getting Hurt Now

"[T]he term 'techie,' often used as shorthand for these boomtown tech industry immigrants, is starting to carry negative connotations. For many tech industry workers, who account for about 8 percent of San Francisco's workers, 'techie' is starting to sound pejorative."

3

Really, "Prankvertisement"?

I have been kind of distracted for most of 2013, so let me ask you a question: Did "prankvertisement" become a word people use at some point during the year and I just didn't notice? It is okay to answer yes, you will just make me feel that much more at peace with my impending demise, which apparently cannot come quickly enough.

1

Troll Over

Are we in danger of overusing the word "trolling" to the point where it loses all meaning? Oh no, how will we ever express the sentiment of "I am irritated enough about this to point it out but not willing to engage any further with it" if that happens?

0

Poles Worry Their Language Might Not Be Intimidating Enough

"Polish language experts launched a campaign Thursday to preserve the challenging system of its diacritical marks, saying the tails, dots and strokes are becoming obsolete under the pressure of IT and speed."

2

Words Bad

Here are some of the terrible words in the English language from the past year. This list is British, but much of it is universal. At least for those who speak English. And really, who doesn't? Not anyone I'd want to know.

1

Disruption Advocated

I counted 29 uses of the word "disruption" or variations on same in this article, but maybe you can find more!

0

'Times' Gets Its Fuck On

"With that one rant against her spunky daughter, Chanel has left her mark in the annals of American journalism."

1

Stop Full

Calm down, everybody.

14

The Zooey Deschanel Of Suffixes

Is this English's most adorable suffix? Sure, why the hell not.

10

Infinitive Split

Where do you stand on split infinitives? Do you feel that a rule is a rule, and no matter how awkward or unpleasant a construction appears, the infinitive must remain unsplit? Or are you of the opinion that it doesn't make much of a difference anyway since of all the things to worry about in the grim slog through boredom and despair that is the pitiful excuse for human existence the question of where a modifier gets placed is perhaps the least important? Tell us in the comments!

9

Freshness Subjective

"Fresh doesn't have to be low-calorie or even especially nutritious—a burrito with ingredients prepared on-site at Chipotle may pack three times the calories of a burger. Nor does fresh require pathologically locavorian supply-chain standards: As Arby's has revealed, a sandwich from Subway might contain cold-cuts processed, packaged, and shipped from a centralized facility in Iowa. Better yet for retailers like Taco Bell, Domino's, and Arby's, the mere implications of freshness can be sold at a premium to new customers who otherwise might have avoided those chains' wares altogether. The only unabashedly pure thing about the concept of fresh is its subjectivity."