Tuesday, 2 February, 2016
Tim Lomas is a London based lecturer in positive psychology – a field that possibly we all need to study more – who has compiled a list of non-English words, that cannot be directly translated into English, that pertain to mindsets and feelings that are somehow positive .
I’m happy to say that there’s a lot to like about this list. “Lagom” a Swedish word, caught my eye, and means to do something to just the right degree. English speakers might use the word “moderation”, but “lagom” hits the nail on the head far more effectively.
emotion, language, psychology
Friday, 4 December, 2015
Are you shore the word you’re thinking of placing in a sentence is the correct choice? With so many English language words that almost look and sound the same, you could be forgiven making an error, except you might not.
Canadian-American psychologist and linguist, Steven Pinker, points out close to sixty words and phrases that are often misused, that include intern, hung, hone, ironic, and irregardless, being a word – though Pinker says it is a portmanteau – I cannot bring myself to utter, even though this is the third time I’ve used it on disassociated.
Since there is no definitive body governing the rules of the English language like there is for the French language, for example, matters of style and grammar have always remained relatively debatable. Pinker’s rules and preferences are no different, but the majority of the words and phrases he identifies are agreed upon and can help your writing and speaking.
communication, language, vocabulary
Friday, 16 October, 2015
David J. Peterson is a US linguist who creates languages for a job. If you’ve ever tuned into Game of Thrones, then you’d be familiar with his work. It was a scene from Return of the Jedi however, that inspired Peterson’s interest in languages though:
The part that always struck me is this weird kind of language that Leia is speaking. She basically says several of the same things twice, and they mean different things each time. The first time, she’s saying, “Yaté, yaté, yotó.” And that means something like, she’s coming to sell the Wookiee. Then the next time, she says, “Yotó. Yotó.” It’s exactly the same word as the last one from the previous one, but now it means that she’s demanding 50,000, no less, after Jabba’s offered her 25,000 – which is a really bizarre way for a language to work.
film, language, screenwriting
Thursday, 13 August, 2015
In 1906 US journalist and satirist Ambrose Bierce published The Devil’s Dictionary, made up of his sarcastic definitions, or redefinitions, of certain words. For example:
Apologise, v. To lay the foundation for a future offence.
Fast forward one hundred and nine years, and The Verge have compiled their own version of Bierce’s lexicon, The New Devil’s Dictionary.
I can’t argue with some of these updated meanings.
Artist (n.): A pauper who receives admiration in lieu of payment.
Some hit the nail right on the head.
Bitcoin (n.): A revolutionary digital currency free of central banks, deposits, or stable concepts of ownership and value.
There is no escape, not even for the venerable Photoshop.
Photoshop (n.): A picture worth a thousand lies.
language, satire, trends
Tuesday, 11 August, 2015
It’s difficult making headway in today’s workplace. Walking the walk is one thing, but it’s not enough. You have to talk the talk as well. But you cannot talk this talk using any old words. You must utter the right ones, and adopt a vocabulary that will make you sound smarter than you already are.
These should help no end:
I’ve been using idiosyncrasy, didactic, innocuous, and aplomb, for years, and look where I ended up… CEO of this website. What more need be said?
language, vocabulary, work
Tuesday, 28 July, 2015
Made up of just one hundred and twenty three words, Toki Pona, created by Toronto based linguist Sonja Lang, sounds exactly like the minimal sort of language I could get into. While communicating clearly through a language with so few words might sound like it is fraught with peril, it is still possible to express just about any concept:
While the Oxford English Dictionary contains a quarter of a million entries, and even Koko the gorilla communicates with over 1,000 gestures in American Sign Language, the total vocabulary of Toki Pona is a mere 123 words. Yet, as the creator Sonja Lang and many other Toki Pona speakers insist, it is enough to express almost any idea. This economy of form is accomplished by reducing symbolic thought to its most basic elements, merging related concepts, and having single words perform multiple functions of speech.
communication, language, linguists
Tuesday, 14 July, 2015
A single word can have multiple meanings, or contexts. For a literal definition we can turn to say Dictionary.com, while the Urban Dictionary offers more… figurative interpretations.
The Silicon Valley Dictionary may then round out the trifecta, with descriptions of the more technical, information technology, related words and terms that are bandied about. Such as Linux Minters, a new one on me:
Engineers whose preference in OS is the Linux Mint operating system. They are irrationally smart and work so fast that they are said to literally mint code like machines.
dictionary, jargon, language
Wednesday, 27 May, 2015
A Canadian Doctor of Philosophy candidate, Patrick Stewart, took the less that usual step of submitting his fifty-two thousand word plus dissertation without any punctuation. And to be sure, he didn’t do so merely to save time, or printer ink.
A 61-year-old architect from the Nisga’a First Nation, Stewart explains that he “wanted to make a point” about aboriginal culture, colonialism, and “the blind acceptance of English language conventions in academia.”
language, punctuation, writing
Monday, 6 April, 2015
This is interesting, I don’t know of anyone who uses double spacing at the end of a written sentence, although I’ve seen the practice occur on some websites I occasionally stumble upon.
As far as I understood, it’s something that harks back to days of typewriters, when writers would add the extra gap to their manuscripts for whatever reason.
That some people today still choose to use typewriters – and each to their own, I say – is beside the point. It was my impression that the convention had long since been deprecated, along with, say, any use whatsoever of the word “whom”.
What galls me about two-spacers isn’t just their numbers. It’s their certainty that they’re right. Over Thanksgiving dinner last year, I asked people what they considered to be the “correct” number of spaces between sentences. The diners included doctors, computer programmers, and other highly accomplished professionals. Everyone – everyone! – said it was proper to use two spaces.
language, punctuation, technology, writing
Monday, 30 March, 2015
Indeed, gibes for a civilised age, sort of… some of more crass sentences penned by Martin Luther, priest, theology professor, and an initiator of the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century. Here’s one to get started:
You are an extraordinary creature, being neither God nor man. Perhaps you are the devil himself.
Ouch. You ought to know, by the way, that Luther’s… taunts have a certain context.
history, humour, language