Naomi Wolf wants young women to stop speaking with "vocal fry"


"Vocal fry" is term used to describe the creaky sound some people make at the end of an utterance (especially by people from Southern California, and extra-especially by young women from Southern California). Read the rest

Man wins French Scrabble championship but doesn't speak French


Nigel Richards of Christchurch, New Zealand won the French-language Scrabble world championship yet he doesn't actually speak the language. Richards, a former US and World Scrabble Champ simply studied the dictionary for a couple months.

"He doesn't speak French at all, he just learnt the words. He won't know what they mean, wouldn't be able to carry out a conversation in French I wouldn't think," said Richards' friend Liz Fagerlund, former president of the New Zealand Scrabble Association. "He does have a reputation for being the best Scrabble player ever and they know about him already, but they probably didn't necessarily expect him to go in for the first time and beat them at their own game."

(NZ Herald) Read the rest

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Does this McDonald's Minions toy say "What the fuck?"


Some parents are complaining that a Minions talking toy available at McDonald's sounds like it says "What the fuck!" Gotta love audio pareidolia. Read the rest

Calvin and Markov: text-chaining new, weird computer humor

Josh Millard's Calvin and Markov uses a small perl script to mine transcripts of Calvin and Hobbes strips using Markov chains to make new, weird, computer humor. Read the rest

Scalia insult-generator

Justice Antonin Scalia's intemperate dissenting opinion in the Supreme Court's landmark marriage equality case included some epic old dude grumpery, including the phrases "pure applesauce" and "jiggery-pokery." Read the rest

The evolution of the word 'dude'


"Dude" was the "hipster" of the 1880s.

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Why people don't like the word "moist"

When I was younger, I had a friend who frequently expressed her hatred for the word "moist." It wasn't until the Internet that I understood this to be a commonly-despised word. Read the rest
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Heavy Metal band-name generator

The internet’s official heavy metal band name generator: pretty good names, with a brilliant presentation. What webfonts are for! (Thanks, Eirik!) Read the rest

Randall "XKCD" Munroe's next book: THING EXPLAINER

Coming this November (pre-order here), Thing Explainer expands the premise of Up Goer Five, Munroe's blueprint of the Saturn Five rocket that restricted its vocabulary to the thousand most common English words. Read the rest

Leetspeak, circa 1901

The telegraph operators of the early 20th century had a rich vocabulary of wrist-saving abbreviations they used among themselves: "Is tt exa tr et?" ("Is that extra there yet?") Read the rest

English is weird

Put the word "only" between any two words of this sentence: "She told him that she loved him." Read the rest

Clean Reader is a free speech issue

My latest Guardian column, Allow Clean Reader to swap 'bad' words in books – it's a matter of free speech expands on last week's editorial about the controversial ebook reader, which lets readers mangle the books they read by programatically swapping swear-words for milder alternatives. Read the rest

New ideas to address games' language barriers

There are many ways to address the insularity and perceived inaccessibility of game creation. We continually insist that games are a massive global phenomenon, but many best practices are only available to the Western, English-speaking world.

Rami Ismail is out to change that. Dutch studio Vlambeer, where he works, is prolific with the hits: Just check out Nuclear Throne, Luftrausers, Ridiculous Fishing or Super Crate Box on whatever device you happen to own, for some of today's greatest arcade experiences.

Ismail is also a tireless developer advocate, constantly traveling the world to work with indies and students, and frequently releasing free tools to help them create and promote themselves. Last week, he announced his latest much-needed initiative: The upcoming, an effort to collect game design learnings and resources in one place -- where they will then be translated into many languages: is a curated repository of content foundational to creating the discourse and conversation about game design, all aspects of development, and game theory and culture. Every piece of content will then be translated into a number of languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Simplified Chinese and, as the intiative expands, more languages around the world.
Ismail frequently speaks about the limiting effect language issues can have on our discipline -- I once watched him teach a small room full of curious conference attendees how to read and say an Arabic phrase within minutes, whereas multimillion-dollar commercial shooters set in the Middle East can't get the words on the signs right in their "realistic" settings. Read the rest

Learn the sign language for "screengrab" and "SMH"

Online mag Hopes & Fears asked an educator in American Sign Language and his young assistant to demonstrate various internet jargon such as "emoji" and "photobomb". Each demo is captured in a short video loop. SMH portrays all the disgust involved in shaking one's head at something really stupid; Screengrab involves a nice gesture that enacts the mechanism of a phone display flashing in one's hand.

Since there's no central authority for such neologisms, some signs were ones used among friends while others were reached by consensus among members of the Deaf community online.

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Twitterbot generates North Korean patriotic slogans with Markov chains

The 300 weird patriotic slogans that North Korea released last week had the stilted feel of machine-generated text. Read the rest

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