Archive for the ‘language’ Category

O tempora! O mores!

January 2, 2012

O tempora! O mores!
Botanists are pitching Latin on the compost heap. Introduction of new plant species will no longer require Latin descriptive explanations. Now the descriptive rationales can be in either Latin or English. Both English and Latin are Greek to botanists from many parts of the world, of course, but perhaps that can be dealt with in the 22nd century. Plant names themselves will remain largely Latin and Latin-ish.

Many botanists work to conserve dwindling plant species. The solution of the International Botanical Congress: “Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis” (“Times are changing and we are changing with them”). Scholarly articles introducing new species will be transplanted from dead tree journals to the Web.

More:

“Botanists finally ditch Latin and paper, enter 21st century,” Hannah Waters, Scientific American blog

“Outcomes of the 2011 Botanical Nomenclature Section at the XVIII International Botanical Congress,” James Miller, Vicki Funk et.al., PhytoKeys

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Image (“Modern Botanist, after Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Steven Pinker on Language (Illustrated)

February 21, 2011

Psychologist and writer Steven Pinker recently spoke to the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) about language and cognition. The video of his complete lecture is here, but the animated excerpt above may be easier to follow, and more fun.

 

Video by Cognitive Media for RSA Animate.

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Word of the Year in a Year of Hate

November 16, 2010

Word of the Year in a Year of Hate

The New Oxford American Dictionary has announced the 2010 Word of the Year: Refudiate. The coinage, a conflation “repudiate” and “refute,” was used by former Temp-Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin to inflame religious intolerance and defend race hatred. Mrs. Palin, a scholarly former sportscaster who attended five colleges, one of them twice, used the word intentionally, first on the Sean Hannity Show and then in a famous tweet.

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Alphabet Soup

July 21, 2010

Alphabet Soup

BP no longer stands for “British Petroleum.” It stands for BP.

AARP no longer stands for the American Association of Retired People. It stands for AARP.

NPR no longer stands for National Public Radio. It stands for NPR.

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‘Eyjafjallajökull,’ Just Like It’s Spelled.

April 20, 2010

Just say “Eyjafjallajökull.”

Couldn’t be simpler. Pronounce  “ö” and “u” as the French “eu” in “bleu” and “ll” as “tl” but with clenched teeth. The letter “j” sounds like “y” and the accent is on the first syllable, which sounds like the Canadian “eh?”

Try drinking some Brennivin first.

More pronunciation help:

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“Barista” Banned by Finicky Feds

September 30, 2009

 

The Standard Occupational Classification Policy Committee of the Bureau of Labor Statistics has nixed the word “Barista:”

“(part I) Docket No. 08-1081 requested adding “barista” as an illustrative example for 35-3022 Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop. The SOCPC did not accept this recommendation. Depending on the work performed, baristas can be classified in more than one occupation, including 35-2021 Food Preparation Workers, 35-3021 Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Fast Food, and 35-3022 Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop. The SOCPC recommended classifying workers who perform duties combining preparation and serving of non-alcoholic beverages in 35-3021 Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food, and modifying the definition to clarify their inclusion.”

That sounds suspiciously like the prose of confirmed tea drinkers.

In any case, the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) is merely used by government agencies that collect and publish occupational data at the Federal level.

The late William Safire noted the word’s arrival in the 11th edition of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary in 2003:

“Waitrons (nope; that overly nonsexist term never made it) will be happy to see barista, ‘a person who makes and serves coffee (as espresso) to the public.'”

The Urban Dictionary claims the term is derived from the Italian for “I was an Art History major.”

Frankly, we’re partial to the term “Java-Jockey” ourselves.

 

Image (“Neo-Nighthawks, after Edward Hopper”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Words of Summer

July 10, 2009

Words ofSummer

Just in time for your summer staycation reading pleasure, 100 new words and phrases have been added to the eleventh edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. You may have read about this in lexicographic fan fiction, but if you missed it, turn down that loud reggaeton, finish your schwarma, and click on these new items of semi-official American English.

Some new words like haram seem pretty kosher; others are phony as a sock puppet and we wouldn’t use them with our worst frenemy. Find new words you like? Text ’em to the whole flash mob.’

 

Image (after a WWII poster) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Street Light User Fee

April 27, 2009

Streetlight User Fee

District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty has proposed imposing a street light “user fee” on residents and businesses in Washington DC. Funds raised would help defray costs of street light maintenance and operation, and would be collected through surcharges on electric utility bills. If enacted, the measure would cost average DC households about $51 a year.

The rationale for a “user fee” is that it isn’t a tax imposed on everyone; a user fee is only paid by those using a specific service, and is proportional to the rate of use. Mayor Fenty’s measure, however,  does not exempt blind Washingtonians from this “user fee,” and they are not consumers of street light services.

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No More Foreclosed Homes

March 5, 2009

No More Foreclosed Homes

What’s all this blather about falling real estate values and home foreclosures? Stuff and nonsense.

Just look around you. There are no more “Foreclosed Homes” —  just “Bank-Owned” houses and “Motivated Sales.”

Just ask any Realtor®.

 

Caution:There are many underperfoming assets on the Real Estate Euphemism Market today. Not all semantic shifts and short sales of logic are bank-approved. Demand documents written in a language actually understood by some living human population without third-party approval.

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Oath ‘Oopsy’

January 22, 2009

  Oath 'Oopsy'

Both the New York Times and New York Post are calling U.S. Chief Justice John G. Roberts., Jr. the “Oaf of Office” merely because he muffed a little act the entire world happened to be watching, the historic swearing-in of Barack H. Obama as 44th President of the United States of America. Picky, picky, picky.

So many people were so upset by this gaffe that President Obama and Chief Justice Roberts reprised the routine to soothe the world with word magic. The oath was repeated (flawlessly this time) yesterday.

Does this mean we can get “do-overs” of all the other interpretations Justice Roberts has botched since he was sworn-in back in 2005?

 

Oopsy (noun) from “oops” (exlamation; var. “whoops” or “woops”) a minor error (houp! ops! esprime rincrescimento per un piccolo contrattempo).

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.