The nine rules of "Freddish": the positive, inclusive empathic language of Mr Rogers

From an excerpt from last year's The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, the rules of "Freddish" -- as Mr Rogers' crewmembers jokingly referred to the rigorous rules that Rogers used to revise his scripts to make them appropriate and useful for the preschoolers in his audience. Read the rest

Self-driving car jargon

Bruce Sterling republishes the acronyms in a recent Daimler white-paper on self-driving cars: Read the rest

What old English perhaps sounded like

In this clip, an Englishman circa 800 A.D. is asked to chatter about his life. He understands the eallníwe léasspellung but prefers the old talk.

A fun little thing to show reconstructed pronunciation of textbook Old English in a casual setting. I've tried to throw in a few natural abbreviations (for example 'c rather than ic), but I know I missed the mark on one or two of the diphthongs. Either way, hopefully this gives some idea as to how the language sounded in casual speech. Message or comment if you'd like any clarifications, want to correct me on anything, or if you're just interested in the topic and would like to know more! I didn't have any decent Anglo-Saxon clothing...

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Movie theater changed "Hellboy" to "Heckboy" on marquee

The Roxy 8 Movie Theater in Dickson, Tennessee changed the title of Hellboy to Heckboy on its marquee. From WZTV:

(Owner Belinda) Daniel told FOX 17 News that she has never displayed any words on the sign that may be seen as profanity, especially since the Roxy is next to Oakmont Elementary School...

“As it turned out, our play on words became a little more exciting than we expected,” Daniel said. “We are glad that we could share a small bit of our great community while also sharing a laugh with the rest of the world...”

Daniel said the sign is the only place where the movie’s title was changed. It appears as “Hellboy” both on the theater’s website, and on the billboards posted on the front of the theater.

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A madlibs science fiction plot generator

Grether Labs's Science Fiction Plot Generator can sure pick 'em: "You are friends with a talking fireplace, and you are working to solve this ancient puzzle before the creatures consume you"; "You are a cyan-eyed cartographer who is finding the awful truth beneath this false utopia, and who is struggling with the terribly thick underbrush and terrible isolation"; "You are friends with a penniless government agent, and you are working to gather the spice before the computer system becomes self-aware"; "You are a science fiction writer and activist who has been made obsolete by a small perl script." Read the rest

Soap for grammar police

The Whiskey River Soap Company's funny soap varieties mostly fall flat for me, but there's one exception: the Grammar Police edition. (Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest

Watch French people try to say difficult English words

Hitting them with "Throughout" first is pretty sadistic. But that they stumble on "choir" suggests that they are hamming it up, un peu? Read the rest

Some pretty impressive machine-learning generated poetry courtesy of GPT-2

GPT-2 is Open AI's language-generation model (last seen around these parts as a means of detecting machine-generated text); it's powerful and cool, and Gwern Branwen fed it the Project Gutenberg poetry corpus to see what kind of poetry it would write. Read the rest

Phonetically consistent English

English is a dragon of a language, dozing atop an enormous mountain of phonemes. What if they were all melted down and minted into something more consistent? And then we tried to speak it? The results sound a bit like a Welsh accent. [YouTube] Read the rest

"We take your privacy and security seriously" is the "thoughts and prayers" of data-breaches

Writing on Techcrunch, Zack Whittaker (previously) calls out the timeworn phrase "we take your privacy and security seriously," pointing out that this phrase appears routinely in company responses to horrific data-breaches, and it generally accompanied by conduct that directly contradicts it, such as stonewalling and minimizing responsibility for breaches and denying their seriousness. "We take your privacy and security seriously" is really code for "Please stop asking us to take your privacy and security seriously." Read the rest

Dialect quiz tracks down where you grew up

I was easy to locate because the term "Had" for the game "Tag" puts my childhood very precisely in Worthing, England, right by Brighton in this map. But it also knows I spent two years in Essex. The NYT's British-Irish dialect quiz is a sharp application of science. The U.S. version was published a while back. Read the rest

How to: make up swears

The power of fuckbonnet, shitsquib, fuckstumbling, douchenozzle, Fuckface von Clownstick, shitwhistle, cockbucket, can be captured through a simple formula: the "pyrrhic foot" of a "familiar profanity compounded with a non-profane word of two unaccented syllables." Read the rest

Yikes is over.

Seeing a slight resurgence online this week, perhaps due to issues related to the government shutdown, is the viral term "Yikes!" I humbly propose that this shopworn exclamation be replaced for the duration of 2019 with "Blimey!" This perfectly British alternative honors the derailed madness of Brexit and even comes with an optional intensifier — Cor Blimey! — though Americans would be advised to use it sparingly. Read the rest

The Girlfriend Zone: the inverse of "the friend zone"

The Girlfriend Zone is the place that women find themselves repeatedly and insufferably placed into by their male platonic friends, who can't or won't understand that the relationship is and will remain platonic: Ann: "So are you hanging out with Ben after class today?" Leslie: "No, he girlfriend zoned me hard. Hes a cool guy, but I can't hang out with him for more than 10 minutes without him making a pass at me." (via Seanan McGuire) Read the rest

L.A. morning show host surprised that a K-pop star from Vancouver speaks English

After K-pop group NCT 127 from Vancouver, Canada performed on KTTV-Fox 11's Good Day L.A., host Araksya Karapetyan gave one of the singers an odd compliment: "Very cool, your English is awesome. I love it."

Here's the clip:

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Urban Dictionary attempts to incorporate Kavanaugh's definition of "Devil's Triangle"

A "Devil's Triangle" is a widely used term for an act of sexual congress between two men and a woman; but during his hearing, Brett Kavanaugh nonsensically insisted that this was some sort of drinking game. Read the rest

Sriracha, yowza, and sheeple among 300 new words in Scrabble dictionary

Four years since the last edition, Merriam-Webster's Official Scrabble Players Dictionary is on now shelves. From The Guardian:

Included in the new edition are some long-awaited two letter words, notably OK and ew.

“OK is something Scrabble players have been waiting for, for a long time,” said lexicographer Peter Sokolowski, editor at large at Merriam-Webster. “Basically two- and three-letter words are the lifeblood of the game.”

There’s more good news for Scrabble players with the addition of qapik, a unit of currency in Azerbaijan, adding to an arsenal of 20 playable words beginning with q that don’t need a u.

The Official SCRABBLE Players Dictionary, Sixth Edition (Amazon)

image: thebarrowboy CC BY 2.0 Read the rest

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