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

What do Japanese think of English swear words?

Asian Boss hit the streets of Tokyo to ask Japanese people what they thought of English curse words, oaths, insults, and epithets compared to Japanese ones. One person pointed out that English swear words are more direct (e.g., "Go fuck yourself"), whereas Japanese swear words are "more like insults and very indirect" (e.g., manuke, which literally means "out of rhythm" and is used to describe a loser). This is in keeping with the Japanese concept of aimai, which stresses implicitness over explicitness. Read the rest

Breasts aren't "boobs" or "titties" but rather "tiddies" or "titays"

"Titties" is a stupid word. It's so stupid and gross that some millennials are replacing it with even more ridiculous words like "tiddies" or "titays." Brilliantly funny MEL Magazine editor Alana Hope Levinson explores how "The Extremely Online are destroying language — one tiddy (or tity) at a time." From MEL:

I first started thinking about this when columnist merritt k wrote about the state of fake boobs and tried to get away with “tity” — with one “t” — throughout the entire draft. I thought it was a typo, but I was astounded to learn that merritt is on a one-woman crusade to make “tity” both the singular and plural.

Still, I thought merritt was a lone tity weirdo until I encountered “tiddies” in writer and designer Robyn Kanner’s draft on trolling Instagram’s nudity policy. “Tiddies” — apparently also the choice spelling of my bible, Jezebel — first appeared when Kanner was describing a scene in Garden State where Method Man asks Zach Braff, Peter Sarsgaard and Natalie Portman if they “saw some titties” at a strip club. In this case, Kanner was using the double d (lol) as a pronunciation spelling common in slang cause she thinks it “has more swagger.” “Titties with a ‘t’ is nice, but it just sounds like college boys talking about boobs,” she says. “Tiddies is ‘we are older, but we are recognizing we are making a joke about boobs.’” Because “titties” is so ridiculous, making it even more so somehow neutralizes the effect with comedy — or at least gives you some ironic distance.

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Shaking Like a Samurai - Musha Burui

One of my favorite things about learning Japanese and living here for over half my life is discovering all the words and phrases that have no exact equivalent in English. It’s an incredible feeling when you learn to describe an emotion, situation, or predicament that you never even realized you hadn’t previously been able to articulate.

It wasn’t too long ago that the Japanese words kintsugi (repairing broken pottery with lacquer mixed with gold) and tsundoku (the act of piling up reading material, but not quite getting around to reading it) made the rounds. It dawned on me that maybe other people like discovering these little treasures, as well.

Today I give you one of my favorite Japanese phrases: mushaburui.

This one’s an oldie but a goodie. Let me explain: Musha in Japanese means warrior or samurai. While the character for burui is a different pronunciation of furu, to shiver, quiver, or shake. Thus, I give you the “shivering samurai”. But what it means is even better than that.

When I was first taught this phrase, I was told to imagine the evening before a large battle. A samurai warrior is quietly making his preparations. He’s nervous, frightened, excited. Yet, despite this mix of emotions, there is a calmness and resignation at facing what might be a great victory or his inevitable death. He doesn’t know why, but as he reaches for his sword he’s trembling.

It is an older Japanese term used to describe a feeling I think we’ve all had at sometime in our lives. Read the rest

Put words between buns!

Courtesy of Ian Bogost (previously): a meme generator that puts words between buns!

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Chicago's 'Aloha Poke Co' wants Hawaiians to stop using the words 'aloha' and 'poke'

"Aloha Poke [Co.] would prefer to settle this matter amicably and without court intervention," reads a letter from Olson and Cepuritis Ltd, lawyers representing Chicago's Aloha Poke Company, addressed to the owner of Honolulu's "Aloha Poke Shop." Read the rest

Ghanaian parliament erupts into giggles as MPs learn about towns called "Vagina is Wise," "Penis is a Fool" and "Testicles are Sad"

Members of the Ghanaian lost their composure in fits of giggles and guffaws when MP John Frimpong Osei listed out the names of towns in his district that were awaiting electrification. Read the rest

Voice assistants suck, but they suck worse if you have an "accent"

Research into the shittiness of voice assistants zeroed in on a problem that many people were all-too-aware of: the inability of these devices to recognize "accented" speech ("accented" in quotes because there is no one formally correct English, and the most widely spoken English variants, such as Indian English, fall into this "accented" category). Read the rest

Rockstar: a programming language whose code takes the form of power ballads

Dylan Beattie created the (functional, but a) joke programming language "Rockstar" so that recruiters would be forced to end the odious practice of referring to people as "rockstar programmers." Read the rest

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