A place to memorialize the domain names you let lapse

goodbye.domains is an obituary column for the domain names that you, after years of squatting, now accept will never be put to use and which are, furthermore, worthless.

I just let neverie.com lapse. "Neverie" was the title of the first novel I wrote as a teen, in the genre of trash fantasy. I'd imagined that I might one day edit and publish it, hence the domain. But I won't. Goodbye, neverie.com.

Goodbye Domains [via Dean Putney, who retired deansli.st] Read the rest

"Whatever" tops list of annoying words

The Associated Press reports that the classic "whatever" was the most annoying word of 2017, though "fake news" gave it a run for its money. Whatever.

The recent addition "fake news" was slightly ahead of "no offense, but" for second place, 23 percent to 20 percent. About one in 10 found "literally" to be most grating, as did a similar number for "you know what I mean."
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The most common swear words on Reddit

Data wizard Gregor0410 crunched the numbers and figured out what the most common swear words on Reddit are. The top two, running almost neck and neck, are "fuck" and "shit." An order of magnitude behind are "dick" and "bullshit", with "cunt" and "cock" putting in respectable totals each similar in size to other swear words combined. [via] Read the rest

Some folks call green peppers "mangoes" for a centuries-old reason

In some parts of America's hinterlands, older folks call green peppers "mangoes." Turns out it goes back to a recipe substitution from the 1700s. Read the rest

Boomers are news-illiterate couch vegetables stuck in front of their yelling, ad-saturated TVs

A Pew Research study found that "younger adults are more likely than their elders to read the news," but there are other ways of seeing the data.

Overall, more Americans prefer to watch their news (46%) than to read it (35%) or listen to it (17%), a Pew Research Center survey found earlier this year. But that varies dramatically by age. Those ages 50 and older are far more likely to prefer watching news over any other method: About half (52%) of 50- to 64-year-olds and 58% of those 65 and older would rather watch the news, while roughly three-in-ten (29% and 27%, respectively) prefer to read it. ... our research also reveals that, in the digital realm, [younger adults] often get news at equal or higher rates than older Americans, whether intentionally or not.

The most literate and literary people in human history. Read the rest

Nominative Determinism

Nominative determinism: "the hypothesis that people tend to gravitate towards areas of work that fit their names."

Exhibit A.

Police are confident that 59-year-old John Burns has a connection to at least 19 arsons on Sharon’s west side. All of those fires have happened since the beginning of this year.

At this point, he is only charged with one count of attempted arson and one count of causing or risking catastrophe. ... Over the past two years, the total number of fires in Sharon is estimated to be near 30.

Exhibit B. Read the rest

Broflake defined

Perhaps you are tired of the terminology of online trashtalk, where words (such as snowflake and bro) form billowing epicycles of sincerity, appropriation and reclamation. Me too! Yet there is such a pure beauty to this morning's surprisingly viral portmanteau, Broflake.

From the Urban Dictionary:

Broflake: Straight white male offended by any feminist or ethnic activity which is not directly designed for him.

Kyle: "How come there's no Straight Pride parade"? Me: OMG you're such a delicate little broflake.

If anything, this definition is too precise, as the word perfectly captures the broader dynamic wherein a person adopts a posture of devil-may-care principled insensitivity to offense, only to collapse in a puddle of outrage and/or legal threats when they are offended.

(For example, the NRA's Dana Loesch is an excellent candidate for Broflake of the Day for Friday, June 30, 2017. After pitching an insanely totalitarian NRA recruitment ad whose anti-violence fig leaf only drew attention to its naked thirst for bloodshed, she was apparently up all night shrieking legal threats on Twitter at random anonymous interlocutors, insisting that their mockery is not free speech.)

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Review: Afterliff, the new dictionary of things there should be words for

Douglas Adams and John Lloyd's 1983 The Meaning of Liff (expanded in 1993 as The Deeper Meaning of Liff) is one of my favorite books and a seminal part of my education. So I was delighted and surprised to see I'd completely missed the 2013 publication of Afterliff, a sequel by Lloyd and Jon Canter. Read the rest

Here’s why people hate the word “moist”

Mashable explains why so many people can’t stand the word “moist.” It turns out it has to do with both word association and the bandwagon effect. Read the rest

What's the story with "gross?"

Linguist Arika Okrent, author of On the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build A Perfect Language, explores the etymology of the word "Gross." Art by Sean O'Neill.

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The word "sheeple" is now in the dictionary, with Apple fans as example

Merriam-Webster added "sheeple" to their dictionary. It's defined as "people who are docile, compliant, or easily influenced : people likened to sheep." Here's one of the two usage examples they include:

Apple's debuted a battery case for the juice-sucking iPhone—an ungainly lumpy case the sheeple will happily shell out $99 for.
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Gendered verbs charted over 100,000 stories

Data scientist David Robinson tracked the proximity of verbs to gender across 100,000 stories. She screams, cries and rejects. He kidnaps, rescues and beats.

I think this paints a somewhat dark picture of gender roles within typical story plots. Women are more likely to be in the role of victims- “she screams”, “she cries”, or “she pleads.” Men tend to be the aggressor: “he kidnaps” or “he beats”. Not all male-oriented terms are negative- many, like “he saves”/”he rescues” are distinctly positive- but almost all are active rather than receptive.

The chart on which types of violence are associated with men and women is predictable stuff: poison from the ladies, beatings from the gentlemen.

It follows on from Julia Silge's look at gender roles and text mining. See also an attempt to do likewise with plot arcs. Read the rest

How do new words get in the dictionary?

Kory Stamper, author of the new book Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries describes three criteria Merriam-Webster uses for inclusion of words like truther, binge-watch, photobomb and the 1,000 other words that make the cut in a typical year. Read the rest

The best nonsense word generator

It's easy to generate random words, or even ones that seem patterned on a particular language. But there's something just right about the words that emerge from Soybomb.com's Nonsense Word Generator: each is marvelously silly, yet seems to have meaning and history.

This page generates nonsense words based on a frequency list of phonemes as they occur in legitimate English words. Occasionally an actual word may show up but it should mostly generate pronounceable gibberish.

It reminds me a lot of Adams, Lloyd and Cantor's Meaning of Liff: if ever they ever run out of odd place names to assign to experiences and things for which we have no words, this will surely come in handy. Every time I reload it it gives me a word I want to assign a definition to:

Cremplications noun The results of attempting to communicate in a foreign language one has not learned.

Snughlin noun A fluffy garment that looks cosy when ordered from the internet or a catalog, but turns out to be made of nylon insulation.

Physion noun A subatomic particle found in branding consultants.

Remember them old IRC games where a bot would pose a challenge, everyone would have to answer it in a minute, and then vote on the best response? That, but for this! Read the rest

"Post-truth" is the Oxford Dictionaries word of the year

Also in the running was "coulrophobia," the fear of clowns, and "hygge," a Danish concept meaning "a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being." From The Guardian:

Defined by the dictionary as an adjective “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”, editors said that use of the term “post-truth” had increased by around 2,000% in 2016 compared to last year. The spike in usage, it said, is “in the context of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom and the presidential election in the United States”...

Contenders for the title had included the noun “alt-right”, shortened from the fuller form “alternative right” and defined as “an ideological grouping associated with extreme conservative or reactionary viewpoints, characterised by a rejection of mainstream politics and by the use of online media to disseminate deliberately controversial content”. First used in 2008, its use “surged” this spring and summer, said the dictionary, with 30% of usage in August alone. Brexiteer was also in the running for the crown, along with non-political terms including coulrophobia, the fear of clowns, and hygge, the Danish concept of cosiness.

But the increase in usage of post-truth saw the term eventually emerge ahead of the pack. “We first saw the frequency really spike this year in June with buzz over the Brexit vote and Donald Trump securing the Republican presidential nomination. Given that usage of the term hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down, I wouldn’t be surprised if post-truth becomes one of the defining words of our time,” predicted Oxford Dictionaries president Casper Grathwohl.

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White Supremacy Euphemism Generator for journalists

Reading recent coverage of Donald Trump's friends on the far right, it struck me that even when people pander to the idea Western culture's wellbeing is inseparable from European ethnicity, they somehow avoid being called white nationalists or supremacists by journalists. Read the rest

How to pronounce "Iguana" in English correctly

This helpful video from Como Pronunciar tackles this surprisingly difficult word. You might think you're saying it right—prepare to be surprised! Read the rest

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