Posts Tagged: Words

Word Disrupted

It's way too late to suggest getting rid of "disrupt," so all that's left now is to figure out what it's supposed to mean. We are stuck with it, and it will be used; it is stuck with us, and it will suffer many shapes. Jenji Kohan created Weeds, then moved to Netflix to make a show about women in prison: Fairly disruptive. "I'm easy to work with, unless you piss me off," she says in a cover quote: Neither disruptive nor non-disruptive.


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 [...]


My Own Private….

Mangaung 1 Iceland 2 Tokyo 3 India 4 Omaha 5

Alamo 6 B.O. 7 Pyramid 8 Architecture 9 Asparagus festival 10

Hero 11 Librarian 12 Spaceship 13 Hammer time 14

Kalifornia 15 Germany 16 Cuba 17 Wichita 18 Iowa 19 Wyoming 20

Focus group 21 Bollywood 22 Instagram 23 Goldman testimony 24 Nietzsche 25


Long Word Less Long Than Previously Rendered

"The Maori placename Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu is not quite as lengthy as we rendered it in a panel accompanying an article about very long words. Our spelling twice included a stray j – a consonant that does not appear in the Maori language."


The Beginning of Big Data

Some years ago an engineer at Google told me why Google wasn't collecting information linked to people's names. It's not just about Big Data.

Not long ago, I was at a dinner with the chief executive of a large bank. Not long ago, a woman in Tacoma, Wash., received a suggestion from Facebook that she "friend" another woman. Not long ago, I sent a dozen friends an electronic invitation to a party.

If you asked me to describe the rising philosophy of the day, I'd say it is data-ism.

The idea of big data goes something like this: "I am [...]


Is Facebook Devaluing Words?

Are you worried about "the linguistic semantic detritus of our particular phase of oligarchical consumerism"? Because you probably should be.


Some Guy From Black Book Says Word Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means

Heteronormativity: you're doing it wrong.


Word Somewhat Powerful

"[REDACTED]: the new word that will make your life slightly simpler, forever." — Is it "death?" Maybe "money?" Or perhaps it's "Vitamix" or "delivery laundry," but that's two words, hmm. I've found that the word "no" is effective for making life simpler; but in rare cases, "yes" works too.


How To Order A Croissant

Ordering a croissant is a perilous enterprise. It forces lovers of French pastries between the Scylla of pretension and the frying pan of provincialism. Actually that’s understating the case: The perils are not two, but manifold.

If you attempt the proper French pronunciation, krwa-san, and succeed, you’ll seem snobby. If you trip over the guttural R, as so many non-native speakers do, you’ll seem pseudointellectual.

If you go for the namby-pamby middle ground, kwa-san, replacing the guttural R with a W, you’ll sound terrible… and namby-pamby.

You could avoid these dangers by pronouncing the word in a straightforward American accident: kruh-sant. But then you’ll quite possibly become the [...]


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.


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 [...]


"Yet by the end, Artisanal had been reduced to a mumbling heap"

"Artisanal, a word that fought early in his career to ensure recognition of craftsmen for their important contributions to society before later being drafted into the creation of a worldwide gourmet branding glut, died Wednesday at his brownstone in Brooklyn overlooking a small gourmet mayonnaise store."


Enough With "Iconic"

"The other day somebody said 'dichotomy' and I was transported back half a century. You hardly ever hear that word nowadays, but back in the Sixties everything seemed to be a dichotomy. Words go in and out of fashion like anything else. May we hope that the irritating 'iconic' is at its apogee, and will soon decline?"


Apparently, When Ultramafic Rock Melts, Its Conductivity Spikes, And That's Why Io Distorts Jupiter's Magnetic Field As Dramatically As It Does

"Later experiments in mineral physics found out that when ultramafic rocks, which are rocks very high in magnesium and iron—when those are melted, their conductivity shoots up by orders or magnitude. And it is that very high conductivity that can create the type of signature we have seen. So, we needed mineral physics to catch up with our data." —For a long time, scientists have wondered why the magnetometer readings around the Jovean moon Io were so crazy. Turns out it's because Io is so ultramafic. Io is also the most volcanic world in the entire solar system, due to a seething, 30-mile-thick ocean of magma just beneath [...]


Even Robots Need Training Wheels

"Beginning in July, AP will initially check automated stories before they are published. But the goal is to be fully automated by the end of the year." — Will you care when your news is written by machines? Will you accuse the machines of bias, malice, or ignorance, and do so in the comments? Or will this hallowed national pastime lose its appeal and fade away? It's not the same, throwing rotten tomatoes at a projection screen; who will bother to impugn the robot writers?


Indisputable Evidence That Spiders Have It Worse Than Any Generation in 50 Years

A generation of spiders is entering the world and the workforce unprepared. What do we do about the spiders?

• More so than previous generations, spiders incubated in beauty and comfort and spaciousness unknown to their parents at that age. Word that 6 million spiders are not working or studying comes as no surprise to anyone with a spider in the basement.

The spiders are suffering a Jimmy Carter-style malaise. It is understandable.

• Many spiders told us that they often worried about being able to pay for dates, while others were still trying to figure out whether they'd [...]


Modifier Zeitgeisty

"'Land' is the new 'Nation,' a modifier that hints at larger zeitgeisty themes while also intriguing the reader."


"Full Disclosure"

I'm an adviser to John McCain's campaign. 1 Siri calls me “Funk Deity.” 2 Aside from lessons in pole dancing——another fad workout sweeping Southern California——this may be the least macho exercise of all time. 3

I am not a cat person. 4 My mother was one for many years. 5 I am a professor of Shakespeare, among other subjects, at UCLA, and this has never happened to me. 6

I am a sucker for the man-befriends-nonhuman-creature genre of sitcoms. 7 I have no complaints about how much I make. 8

When the New America Foundation moves its offices in D.C., next week, Foreign Policy will become our tenants, but [...]


Some Random Thoughts on French Feminist Group Names

Why do French feminist groups have such awesome names? (As noted in this story on the au revoir to the term 'mademoiselle.') For instance, is "Les Chiennes de Garde" a pun, in French? (I don't have any reason to think so particularly; it just LOOKS like it would be some sort of super-cute complicated French double-pun.) Also "Paroles de Femmes," which is an "aid group" not an activist group;. Can I translate that in my mind as Words With Lady Friends? That's much more fun. Oh France.


Envy Is Actually Slightly Different From Jealousy

"The researchers were looking for quintessential envy, which is distinct from jealousy. Envy involves a longing for what you don’t have, while jealousy is provoked by losing something to someone else. If you crave a wife like Angelina Jolie, you’re envious of Brad Pitt; if you’re upset about losing your wife to him, you’re jealous." —Huh. So Iago and Rick Springfield: envious. Herzog and Ric Ocasek, jealous. And, as John Tierney reports, envy improves our focus and memory, but it makes our brains tired. Also, Brad Pitt was so good in Moneyball!