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Language, Words, & Meaning

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Welcome to the Era of the Mega-Lie. When the men (and women) from Mars land next year—language and life are moving that fast—they will of course command, “Take us to your leader.”

Welcome to the Era of the Mega-Lie

Thereafter conversation will be limited if they are modish folk who have adopted all the new words sanctified as acceptable English by the Oxford English Dictionary. The tsunami of new words has not so far relieved us of the encroaching corruptions of political vocabulary skewered by Orwell seventy years ago. “Emptying words of meaning is an essential step on the road to autocratic rule.” It sounds like an ungood Newspeak principle, but it is fresh from Roger Cohen, the New York Times columnist, commenting in 2017 on the weird events of the Trump presidency.

Having scored a surprise Electoral College victory, but not the “landslide” he claimed, the new president obsessed about the size of his inauguration crowds and the conspiracy whereby Hillary Clinton sneaked nearly three million noncitizens into the nation’s voting booths. 17 Unusual Words That Will Make You Appear Smarter When Describing People.

It was the English writer Philip Pullman (famous for the fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials) who once famously wrote that "People are too complicated to have simple labels.

17 Unusual Words That Will Make You Appear Smarter When Describing People

" Google’s breakdown of what Americans don’t know how to spell, state by state. In honor of the National Spelling Bee, which starts Wednesday, Google decided to see what words people in each of the 50 states struggle to spell.

Google’s breakdown of what Americans don’t know how to spell, state by state

To do this, employees looked at Google searches of “how to spell ______” in each of the states from Jan. 1 to April 30 this year. Whatever word filled that blank most often in each state became denoted as that state’s “most misspelled word.” The results may not be scientific, but they sure were amusing. Perhaps most amusing, though, was that when Google first tweeted the “America’s Most Misspelled Words” infographic, it pointed out that folks in Washington, D.C., needed the help of the Internet to spell the word “ninety.”

Only, the infographic read “nintey.” Google quickly corrected the graphic, allowing its viewers to focus on the peculiar results. [Trump targets ‘negative press covfefe’ in garbled midnight tweet] How Language Evolved in the Brain. In his recent Nautilus essay, “The Kekulé Problem,” Cormac McCarthy suggests that our unconscious mental processes are a modern echo of the prelinguistic minds of our prehistoric ancestors.

How Language Evolved in the Brain

He sees a stark contrast between language as a fairly recent cultural invention and the unconscious as an ancient biological system; the two are made from entirely different cloth, which is why, according to McCarthy, the unconscious “is loathe to speak to us.” It is “just not used to giving verbal instructions and is not happy doing so,” preferring to communicate with our consciousness in images and metaphors.

As a linguist, I don’t think I quite agree with the renowned novelist’s characterization of the unconscious mind as fundamentally non-verbal—which I guess is Canadian polite-speak for: Wow, I really don’t agree with that at all. The unconscious mind of the modern human—after language—is inexorably altered by it. Symbols can’t be the whole story. Symbols are indeed crucial to human language. Let’s Talk About Bitchface. Skedaddle. The months of September, October, November, and December take their names from Latin words meaning “seven,” “eight,” “nine,” and “ten.”


So why don’t their names correspond to where they fall in the year? The answer lies in an earlier version of the Roman calendar. • The sweltering period called the “dog days” takes its name from the movements of a certain star. • A new book offers an insider’s view of the world of dictionary editing. "No problem": Yes, it's a BIG problem. (CBS News) A certain catch phrase is posing a problem for our contributor Bill Flanagan: When did everyone born after 1980 decide that "No problem" was interchangeable with "You're welcome"?

"No problem": Yes, it's a BIG problem

From 'Humbled' to 'Pal': The Rise of the 'Smarmonym' They’re called “contronyms” or, less elegantly, “auto-antonyms.”

From 'Humbled' to 'Pal': The Rise of the 'Smarmonym'

They’re words that are their own antonyms—that mean one thing and a polar-opposite thing at the same time—and they include terms like “sanction” (which can mean both to “ratify” and to “penalize”) and “seed” (to plant seeds and/or remove them) and “cleave” (to cling to and/or to separate). But there’s a special strain of contronym—one whose terms get their divergent meanings not from some long-lost whim of Latin or German or Proto-Indo-European, but from something both enduring and contemporary: human awkwardness.

Earlier this week, the magazine editor Hugo Lindgren wondered: If You Have To Say It, Say It In GIFs. The Appeal Of Emoji: They Don't Say Anything  A few years ago, I staged an emoticon intervention with my father.

The Appeal Of Emoji: They Don't Say Anything 

I'd realized with horror that he had been sprinkling smiley faces into the messages he sent to his friends, relatives and even business acquaintances, so I sat him down for a stern conversation about the crippling un-coolness that the habit conveyed. No one, I told him, should be caught dead using At the time, I congratulated myself on being a caring daughter who'd saved her father from looking like a fool.

Yet recently, I've realized my dad was just an early adopter. The Kids Are ALL-CAPS. Good Internet citizens are supposed to hate all-caps writing.

The Kids Are ALL-CAPS

It's shouty, it's misused. But it can also help solve a modern visual problem. Imagine "someone looking at a feed,” says the Canadian artist Alex McLeod, and wondering, “How can I stand out?” For a living, McLeod sells phantasmagoric prints and digital files through his website. Twitter is where he hones his online persona, by writing surrealist thoughts in all-caps to attract attention.

The blog of The Harvard Crimson. Hundreds of high school prefrosh will be coming to campus this weekend, phones in hand, thumbs at the ready.

The blog of The Harvard Crimson

In high school, texting was all about the abbreviations and acronyms. Cool texters were the ones who could throw around g2g, LOL, and idk without a second thought. Now, though, these prefrosh are at Harvard, and at Harvard, it's punctuation that matters. That means that these prefrosh have got some stuff to learn. The Period, Our Simplest Punctuation Mark, Has Become a Sign of Anger. This is an unlikely heel turn in linguistics. In most written language, the period is a neutral way to mark a pause or complete a thought; but digital communications are turning it into something more aggressive. That’s what zhe said: As genders blur, language is rapidly adapting. On January 8 the American Dialect Society announced “they” as its 2015 Word of the Year. Some may be surprised that the common pronoun beat out newcomers “on fleek” and “ammosexual.” But “they” didn’t win because of the way it’s traditionally been used as a plural pronoun. Rather, it won because of the way it’s being now applied as a gender-neutral, singular form that can be applied to either sex.

It’s only the most recent example of how the English language, from titles to pronouns, is in the process of adapting to new cultural attitudes about gender. Mx-ing up titles. Words of 2015 round-up. Word of the Year season has closed with the selections of the American Dialect Society this past weekend, so it’s time to reflect on the different words of the 2015. The refugee crisis and gender politics have featured prominently in selections around the globe as well as the influence of technology. Dinter, bitz and gwop: a guide to youth slang in 2016. If you struggle to understand the teenagers and young people around you when they call their schoolfriend a durkboi and try to cadge some peas, you are not alone. The idea that they are communicating in a different language from their parents has been the subject of excited chatter on parenting websites and among some researchers.

A defining characteristic of youth slang is thought to be its faddishness – the fact that terms have a rapid turnover, quickly coming in and out of fashion and then disappearing before parents and teachers have time to decode them. The reality is more complicated: novelty is all-important but for each generation the expressions they encounter will be new to them. Creating The World's Greatest Anagram. "It's supposed to look unlabored. " Orwell was wrong: doublethink is as clear as languag... Everyone remembers Newspeak, the straitjacketed version of English from George Orwell’s novel 1984 (1949). WEBSITES\HOBOPAGE\hobosigns. A Way with Words. Human language may be shaped by climate and terrain. A Way with Words. Tennessee Top Hat. 24 words that mean totally different things now than they did pre-Internet.

Did human grammar(s) evolve? What "Orwellian" Really Means: An Animated Lesson About the Use & Abuse of the Term. Dictionary of Newfoundland English Search. Edited by G.M Story, W.J Kirwin and J. Pep pep - Tim and Eric Wiki, Great Job! Language - The War Behind All Wars : Waking Times. Aviator's Slang. Sperm Whales’ Use Of Language Points To Evidence Of Culture. How Do You Pronounce Moët & Chandon? It's Complicated. Lucire Living: How to pronounce 'Moët' - Carolyn Enting solves the champagne pronunciation riddle - The global fashion magazine. The real secret to learning a language online. Irony - Examples and Definition of Irony. 59 Quick Slang Phrases From The 1920s We Should Start Using Again. Words People Commonly Misuse - Words That People Say Wrong - The Real Definition of Literally.

Fifty psychological and psychiatric terms to avoid: a list of inaccurate, misleading, misused, ambiguous, and logically confused words and phrases. MIT claims to have found a “language universal” that ties all languages together. The Twisted Genius of Soldier Humor - Jokes in Wartime. Meh. Worst food-writing cliches. 11 Stellar British Swear Words That Americans Should Borrow.

Italian Food Pronunciation Guide - You're Pronouncing These Italian Foods Completely Wrong. Irony - Examples and Definition of Irony. I.e. Versus E.g. Confessions of a Comma Queen. Pimps & Nazi Cattle: A Translator’s Adventures in the Dictionary. Annus mirabilis. Did English Speakers Really Not Use Contractions in the 19th Century as Depicted in True Grit? 11 Inappropriate Words That Wouldn't Exist Without 'South Park' 45 ways to avoid using the word 'very'. 12 Funny Photos of Grammar Nazis Correcting Mistakes. 11 Texan Phrases The Rest Of The Country Should Adopt. Learn a Foreign Language Quickly. 10 Language Mistakes Kids Make That Are Actually Pretty Smart.

Ancient Migration Patterns to North America Are Hidden in Languages Spoken Today. Split Infinitives are Not Incorrect Grammatically. Jargon is the Death of Culture. The Period, Our Simplest Punctuation Mark, Has Become a Sign of Anger. Easily the best thing you'll hear all week: a beluga whale mimicking human speech. Listen to what our ancestors' language sounded like 6,000 years ago. Good Juju. Gone Pecan. What’s a Hipster?

How J.K. Rowling was exposed as Robert Galbraith. Advice for men: How do you refer to a gentleman whose name you don’t know? The First “Deadline” Outlook - puhnner. Ellipses: Why so common? What are they really for? Where the Term “Rock and Roll” Came From. Latin Words and Phrases Every Man Should Know. Animal Behaviorist: We'll Soon Have Devices That Let Us Talk With Our Pets - Megan Garber. How would you sound on Mars? How English Sounds to Non-English Speakers. A linguistic dissection of 7 annoying teenage sounds. 4 things most native English speakers don’t know about English.

Garden path sentence. 10 old-fashioned swears to spice up your cussin' New XO Attempting To Stamp Out Misuse of Word ‘Literally’ Ancient Language Computer Program Recreates Sound Of Dead Tongues, Scientists Say. 20 Bizarre Google Search Suggestions - (funniest google suggestions, search suggestion) 13 Little-Known Punctuation Marks We Should Be Using. 25 of the Happiest Words in English. 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent. 10 Commonly Used Expressions and Their Bizarre Origins. 11 ways you are thoroughly (but interestingly) wrong.

Kenopsia. The Russian language enters a new world. Language designed for thinking. The new face of Nordic profanities. English is a Scandinavian language. Sign Language Researchers Broaden Science Lexicon. From 'JK' To 'Eye Gunk': Taking U.S. Slang To China. Welcome to LinguaStep! What’s the secret to learning a second language? DarkCopy - Simple, full screen text editing. I Write Like.