On the bewildering regional names for corner stores

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The anglosphere has a bewildering proliferation of regional names for corner stores: "variety stores," "bodegas," "delis," "corner shops," "party stores," "package stores" (often shortened to the unfortunate "packies"), "offies/off-licenses," "milk bars," etc. Read the rest

Analyzing all known Metal lyrics with natural language processing

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Iain ("an ex-physicist currently working as a data scientist") scraped Dark Lyrics and built a dataset of lyrics to 222,623 songs by 7,364 metal bands, then used traditional natural language processing techniques to analyze them. Read the rest

Black-hat hacker handles are often advertisements

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When Bruce Sterling wrote his seminal book The Hacker Crackdown -- a history of the rise of hackers, the passage of the first anti-hacking laws, and the formation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation -- most of the hackers he chronicled had handles that were a combination of playfulness and menace, like Phiber Optik, Scorpion and Acid Phreak. Read the rest

Tolkien elf or prescription drug name?

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I scored badly enough on this that I'm thinking that my fallback career will be raiding The Silmarillion for Elvish names to sell to Big Pharma. Read the rest

Lower-case "x" as a gender-neutral typographic convention

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You can type Mx instead or Mr and Ms to denote someone whose gender is unknown or nonbinary, "Latinx" is a gender-neutral and nonbinary-friendly version of Latina and Latino -- it's part of a wider trend to backforming gender neutrality into a language that assumes gender is a binary instead of a continuum. Read the rest

Emojibot uses deep learning to synthesize expressive new nonverbal communications

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Dango is a personal assistant that feeds its users' messages into a deep-learning neural net to discover new expressive possibilities for emojis, GIFs and stickers, and then suggests never-seen combinations of graphic elements to your text messages that add striking nuances to them. Read the rest

Twitterbot that produces endless entries in an imaginary daemonological grimoire

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The Lesser Bot is a twitterbot that is writing a machine-generated grimoire, complete with summoning runes, which is timely, given that we're entering the age of demon-haunted computers. Read the rest

How to Speak Canadian

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Dan Nosowitz of Atlas Obscura has posted a pair of funny pieces on how to “speak Canadian.” I was reminded of this clip from comedy legend John Candy.

Canada RULES! I love swearing in Québécois. Also, I deeply respect Boing Boing's revered tech guru and sysadmin Ken Snider, who is Canadian.

Atlas Obscura's short guide to cursing like a French Canadian is fantastic. Basically you mutter a bunch of religious terms under your breath, like tabernak and callise!

Nosowitz also tackled one of the great mysteries of North American language, the Canadian “about”. I'm still not sure I can get my head around it.

Via Atlas Obscura:

The Canadian diphthong in “about” starts with something closer to “eh,” and migrates to a blank space on the American linguistic map somewhere between “uh,” “oh,” and “ooh.” That transition is actually easier on the mouth than the American version; our vowels go from low to high, and theirs from mid to high.

To say that Canadians are saying “aboot” is linguistically inaccurate; “ooh” is a monophthong and the proper Canadian dialect uses a diphthong. “A-boat” would actually be a bit closer, but still relies on a monophthong. Why can’t Americans get their heads around the Canadian “about”?

“What's going on is a compound of pronunciation and perception,” says Dailey-O’Cain. “The Canadians do pronounce it differently. Americans hear this and they know it's different—they're hearing a difference but they don't know exactly what that difference is.” Americans do not have the Canadian diphthong present in the word “about,” which makes it hard to understand.

Read the rest

The euphemisms news reporters use when a sports figure injures his penis and testicles

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In a recent high-stakes basketball match between the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warrior player Draymond Green kicked Thunder player Steven Adams directly in the penis and testicles. Read the rest

Paypal refuses to deliver online purchases to UK addresses containing "Isis"

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The Isis River, which flows through the English university city of Oxford, has inspired many place names that include "Isis," including "Isis Close." Read the rest

Space Age Language Translator!

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I never had an ear for foreign language, and after three years studying Spanish in junior high school, all I could say was “Esta lloviendo, aqui!” which means it’s raining or something like that. Pretty embarrassing.

The first time you travel to a foreign country where your native language is not spoken widely, it’s a surreal experience. Everyone sounds like the adults in a Charlie Brown cartoon.

The day of enlightenment may be upon us.

For $129 The Pilot by Waverly Labs, which hits the stores in September, will provide real-time translation of French, Spanish, Italian, and English when you insert the devices into your ears.

They look a little bulky now, but of course further miniaturization is just around the corner.

c'est magnifique!

Via Bored Panda Read the rest

The weird, humiliating nicknames George W Bush gave to everyone

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Remember when "Turd blossom" was the affectionate nickname the President of the United States used to refer to his chief advisor? Read the rest

"Tendril perversion": when one loop of a coil goes the other way

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The term "tendril perversion" was coined in 1998 by mathematicians Goriely and Tabor to describe the long-observed phenomenon of coiled cables, vines and other helixes that have one kinked loop that goes the other way. Read the rest

Petition: David Attenborough to change his name to "Boaty McBoatface"

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After the public overwhelmingly voted to name a new British Natural Environment Research Council vessel "Boaty McBoatface," the UK government pulled a switcheroo, declaring the will of the people to be secondary to the judgment of humourless bureaucrats, and summarily named the ship the R.R.S. David Attenborough. Read the rest

Qantas delays flight because of wifi network named "Detonation Device"

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QF481, from Melbourne to Perth, was delayed last week because a passenger spotted a wifi network called "Detonation Device." Read the rest

Baby names generated by a neural network

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In 2015, Stanford computer science PhD candidate Andrej Karpathy decided to test out some neural network tools he'd been experimenting with, and set them to generating plausible baby names. Read the rest

Burbank airport changes name, ditches "Bob Hope"

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My favorite airport in America is changing its name to "Hollywood Burbank Airport," removing the name of racist, reactionary old-timey boob Bob Hope, whose name has been judged not to resonate with the modern traveller. Read the rest

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