Friday, 19 May 2023

a city of badgers (10. 753)

Having previously looked at the subject of medieval collective nouns and their origins, legacy in the hierarchy and protocols of the hunt, we quite enjoyed this omnibus posting accounting for the creative jargon as primarily a class identifier—arbitrary etiquette like not wearing white after Labor Day—this specialist language perhaps not the most rigorous of gauges of social standing but selective and enforceable ones as one tool, rule to maintain class structure, all encompassing to reckon not only groups of quarry (see also) but also professions and rank. A Promise of Bartenders (A Promeลฟลฟe of Tapลฟters), a Tabernacle of Bakers, an Unbrewing of Carvers, a Malapertness of Peddlers and a Disworship of Fools are especially good. Learn more and tag yourself at the links above.

Thursday, 18 May 2023

6x6 (10. 749)

unartificial: city of Vienna is using AI feline-added artwork to promote its inspiration—via Miss Cellania  

paved paradise: the American obsession with car storage and its attendant ills  

world police: US military bases around the globe—see previously here and here 

sour grapes: the art of the sulk as a form of indirect communication and social-leveller  

bakerloo line: an incredible schematic of the Piccadilly Circus under- and overground by Renzo Picasso—see previously 

uhohlingo: a AI that generates language learning lessons—and tends to be notoriously wrong

Wednesday, 17 May 2023

8x8 (10. 747)

me and coolio down by the school yard: a treasury of DJ Cummbund’s mash-ups—see previously  

pedestrianised zone: Tokyo, the largest city in the world, achieved at level of automobile usage almost without compare to all other urban areas—via Kottke 

oo-de-lally: Disney’s Robin Hood at fifty—via Waxy  

was involved in a quid pro crow: during an interview, a politician introduces an interesting error  

sentence grimes: tag yourself in the unimpeachable list of seventh- and eighteenth century Quaker names—see also—Experience Cuppage is also very good 

contes de ma mรจre l’oye: fabulist, architect and meteorologist, the passions of the Brothers Perrault informed the modern age  

conservancy: the gradient of corporate and public, historic interest for digital preservation and possible solutions—see previously 

soda stereo: an appreciation of the Argentine musical sensation, four decades on

Monday, 15 May 2023

mama ลกฤ! (10. 742)

Having enjoyed all the performances from Eurovision Song Contest from Liverpool Saturday—we didn’t stay up late enough for the voting but saw the returns the next day—we appreciated this linguist insight into the penultimate entry from Croatia’s Let 3 (Flight Three, known for their progressive, sometimes subversive performances and lyrics) whose consonant collision can be understood as a reference to the Cyrillic letter ั‰ (pronounced in Russian like the -sh in Welsh-sheep and in Ukrainian like cash-chest—see previously) and has ostensibly an anti-war message, narrowly edging out the other national favourite that had an even clearer rebuke against Vladimir Putin, keeping within Eurovision guidelines against overt politics. The digram means nothing in itself in Croatian, though as band members explain it could signify a moan of pleasure, a blood type or a mediative mantra. More from Language Log (including a video clip of the number) at the link above.

Sunday, 14 May 2023

hey erete (10. 741)

Via thm, we enjoyed exploring this list—some familiar, some forgotten and others new to us—of Ancient Greek terms that should be reintroduced into common-parlance and we’d all experience ฮตแฝฮดฮฑฮนฮผฮฟฮฝฮฏฮฑ (eudaimonia—that is, human flourishing and the highest common good) for re-incorporating these virtues in social-circles. Phronesis (ฯ†ฯฯŒฮฝฮทฯƒแฟฯ‚) as prudence, the practical application of sound judgment and experience and aidos (ฮ‘แผฐฮดฯŽฯ‚)—the antidote to the more commonplace hubris in this goddess of shame, modesty and humility, this personification of a trait, a daughter of the titan Prometheus and was the last to depart Earth at the end of the Golden Age and the middle way to avoid the extremes of pride and timidity. Case in point, the article also includes the etymology and pathology of particularly vexing ailment called homesickness, diagnosed and coined in the seventeenth century by a Swiss medical student to describe the separation anxieties that mercenary countrymen were experiencing (it becoming so grave that a temporary stay was put on cowbells and other sounds that would remind conscripts in foreign lands of home, triggering the condition) from the Homeric trope for nautical homecoming fraught with challenge and temptation, nostos—ฮฝฯŒฯƒฯ„ฮฟฯ‚, from the Odyssey, and giving us the condition of nostalgia. Much more at the links above.

Wednesday, 10 May 2023

8x8 (10. 730)

grift for the mill: New York congressional representative George Santos (previously) surrenders to federal authorities for arraignment on thirteen counts of criminal deceit and defrauding donors 

choose or loose: following the shuttering of Buzzfeed and the uncertain future of Vice, Paramount shuts down MTV News, cutting a quarter of its global workforce—see more, see also

in-go-nom-pa-shi: a Plains Indian Sign Talk primer—via Nag on the Lake 

i want to believe: UFO-hunters’ grassroots surveillance network project to scan the skies 

past-exonerative tense: copaganda and other choice of tone that normalise police violence—see also  

krรณlewiec: Poland renames the Russian exclave with a native endonym, in what is deemed a hostile act by Moscow  

content farms: AI chatbots being used to generate dozens of breaking news sites to draw advertisers—via the new shelton wet/dry  

townhall: CNN takes a big risk in giving Trump a platform with a live studio audience—see previously

Saturday, 6 May 2023

10x10 (10. 724)

shark tank: MS Teams has a suite of customisable in app stickers  

let him love fellows of a polecat: recalling a scholar’s naรฏve but noble translation attempt of Lorem ipsum—see previously here and here 

i was there (at the coronation): a 1953 calypso song by Young Tiger s s minow: Federal Communications Commission who called television a vast wasteland (see previously) has passed away, aged 97

like family, but with more cheese: more on that pizza commercial produced by AI  

brownstone: Ruxandra Duru collects colour swatches of Brooklyn townhouses  

some disassembly required: a proposal to construct a Dyson’s Sphere (see previously) around the Earth using Jupiter for raw materials  

yeoman’s work: Penny Mordaunt as the unwavering bearer of the Sword of State stole the show—see more here and here 

native tongue: research shows nearly half of the world’s linguistic diversity at risk  

dark patterns: digital services make it difficult to unsubscribe—via Waxy

Monday, 1 May 2023

8x8 (10. 711)

time in a bottle: individuals turning turning care and attention into currency  

composition as explanation: daily it’s harder to decide if AI is a collaborative tool or a time bomb  

zoonomia: researchers sequence the genome of sixty-five hundred species—plus Balto, the heroic sled dog of the 1925 Serum Run 

back to the drawing board: researchers at Linkรถping University have engineered a functional wooden resistor—see previously—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

occupancy rate: a tour of the empty City of London  

so for you, it’s insects, tap-water and celibacy: examining how bad ousted Fox News host Tucker Carlson was for the environment and speculation on who might take up that mantle next 

deep dreaming: on chatbot hallucinations and the first usage of the sense in 1540 by the ryght rodolent & rotounde rethorician R Smyth  

worth1000: a time capsule camera that composes a detailed written description of ones photos with a ticketed invitation to revisit them at a future date

Tuesday, 25 April 2023

right of reply (10. 699)

Incorporated on this day in 1910 in Zwickau, Audi was the second automobile business started by founder August Horch, whom was not allowed by his former business partners to call his new company by his last name as they had decided collectively for the first claiming trademark infringement. The name was at the suggestion of associate’s son, Heinrich Fikentscher, Latin student, who was studying during a meeting held at his father’s apartment about what to call their new enterprise and growing weary of the insistence that they retain Horch (a near homonym of the German hรถren, hรถrt, attend or hear) implored his father “Audiatur et altera pars…wouldn’t it be a better idea to call it audi rather than horch?” The phrase, usually cited as a legal principle or editorial policy in its singular imperative form Audi alteram partem, means “let the other side be heard as well” and is applied in disputes to allow both sides to give their version of events or present both sides in a media venue.

Sunday, 16 April 2023

penta-vigesimal (10. 678)

Whilst mathematics is universal, there is no monopoly on notation and alternative numbering systems certainly do yield insight on cognition, computation and reckoning parallels. The Western hemisphere’s first new notational system in over a century was developed in the early 1990s, we learn via Clive Thompson’s Linkfest (previously), by a small class of middle school and high school students as part of maths enrichment project in Katovik, Alaska, noting that they didn’t have the numbers to represent all the numbers in Iรฑupiaq in Arabic-Hindi numerals alone for their base-twenty counting, scores used in Danish, French and for some other Inuit family languages), devising and refining a method of arithmetically representing all the native values reckoned on all one’s fingers and toes, with positional correspondence derived from native terms—for example, tallimat (5) coming from taliq (arm) for all of one’s five digits, iรฑuiรฑรฑaq (20) meaning a whole person or the glyph for zero or null a gesture of negation. A marked increase in scores on standardised mathematics tests for indigenous communities using notational systems that more closely match their ethnographic heritage not only helps with student achievement but demonstrates for all involved that numeracy is embedded within their culture and not something imparted by western hegemony. Learn more at the links above.

Saturday, 15 April 2023

lexicographer: a writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge that busies himself in tracing the original and detailing the signification of words (10. 674)

Whilst not the first and consigned to full a gaping gap in the book market as the public readership and booksellers were dissatisfied with available grammars and lexicons, the rather heroic and singular academic undertaking by Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language—first published on this day in 1755, was highly influential and considered the authoritative reference source until the introduction of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Compiled over seven years, Johnson produced more than just a glossary of jargon or foreign concordance but rather a comprehensive, well-organised accounting of the English language—with over forty-two thousand entries, he proclaimed he was Vasta mole superbus (“Proud of its great volume”)—the word list was annotated with parts of speech and accentuated with literary citations, mostly drawn from the works of William Shakespeare, John Milton and the poetry of John Dryden, which were illustrative and often humorous, as in the titular definition of his vocation, and versified for effect, courtesy of Jonathan Swift, et al.: 

Opulence—wealth; riches; affluence
“There in full opulence a banker dwelt,
Who all the joys and pangs of riches felt;
His sideboard glitter’d with imagin’d plate,
And his proud fancy held a vast estate.” 

Johnson’s work established the paradigm for standard dictionary entries with etymological speculation, usage and a guide to pronunciation and when the OED became its definitive successor some one hundred seventy years later, reproducing many of the former’s definitions, marking them with a J., judging his scholarship expedient and judicious to copy.

Sunday, 12 March 2023

lost in translation (10. 608)

Via NPR, we are referred to a long and growing thread of words hosted by dictionary Merriam-Webster have no English equivalent, and due to their inchoate elegance are a bit tortured for the lengthy but elucidating explanation, submitted by individuals all over the world. Many of these were brand new to us and are adding to our quiver, like dรฉbrouillard—literally, one who removes the fog, describing a resourceful and efficient person at deconflicting matters, dรฉpaysement—describing the feeling of novelty, the state of being unmoored when visiting a foreign place, bjรธnetjeneste, from a Norwegian fable about a bear, trying to be helpful, and swatting away a fly and instead mauled the person with the slight irritation with the German equivalent verschlimmbessern or gwarlingo—Welsh for the rushing sounds of a clockwork before it tolls the hour. Merriam-Webster’s replies are quite nice as well. Look through the list and let us know your new favourites.

Thursday, 9 March 2023

rhoticity (10. 599)

Having previously explored the conventional understanding of vowels and consonants (see here and here), we appreciated this video via Miss Cellania on the plasticity of the r-sound and how under certain conditions it is classed by linguists with the usual range phonemes. A so called retroflex or R-coloured vowel, represented in IPA as ษš, is rare overall but examples occur in the most widely spoken languages: dialectically in North American English and Canadian French in nurse, dollar, butter and third as well as in Mandarin in a phenomenon called Erhua (ๅ…’ๅŒ–—adding an extra r-sound to terminal syllables). In some cases, especially in non-rhotic regional variations, the r can be linking or intrusive—as in drawering or withdrawral. More from Otherwords in the presentation below.

Monday, 27 February 2023

sixth tone (10. 577)

Via ibฤซdem and translated by our friend Victor Mair, we are introduced to the tongue-twister, short narrative verse in Classical Chinese of the “Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den” (ๆ–ฝๆฐ้ฃŸ็…ๅฒ, the title romanised in pinyin as Shฤซ-shรฌ shรญ shฤซ shว) with the corpus of the following ninety-four syllables, characters pronounced as shi with the tonal qualities varying throughout. Authored in 1930 by the linguist Yuen Ren Chao (่ตตๅ…ƒไปป) as a demonstration of homophones and coherency of the ancient grammar (see also) and as a criticism of simple, phonetic transliteration.

Friday, 24 February 2023

double you (10. 571)

Having previously explored the letter w as a semi-vowel and interventions to making English’s Latin inheritance more legible at speed, we enjoyed this further examination, via Strange Company, on how uu became w through the intermediary runic character called wynn (ฦฟ), becoming the preferred representation of the sound from the eight century on for clarity’s sake with the ligatured form coming to dominate scripts around thirteen hundred.

Wednesday, 22 February 2023

8x8 (10. 564)

your heart fits me like a glove: Madonna dream diary 

clickword: a Scrabble-like single-player game—via Miss Cellania  

sideshow bob roberts: Simpsons show-runner Josh Weinstein shares a treasury of easter eggs and little known provenances  

arby’s+: more restaurant franchises are turning to subscription plans 

the dรผsseldorf patient: a fifth individual is cured of HIV after stem-cell therapy  

jpeg: an image only newsletter with click-through surprises—via Waxy  

aurora borealis—at this time of year, at this time of day, in this part of the country, localised entirely within your kitchen: an infinite Steamed Hams generated by AI—see previously, see also

air-brush: popular photographer admits his portraits are synthesised by an neural network

images from the collective unconscious: Olga Frรถbe-Kapteyn’s archive of dream archetypes

Sunday, 19 February 2023

7x7 (10. 559)

wolf-whistle: the lexical corpus of canines and US supreme court justices  

deportment: how to act around books  

meres, lochs and llyns: regional variations in names for alleys and narrow walkways in the UK  

linkboy: living in a Dark Sky area, we enjoyed reading about the first town’s to be certified embracing that honour—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links—which is also the source of the expression ‘cannot hold a candle to’ 

official state crap: legislature of New Mexico introduces a bill to create a state aroma, the first of its kind 

cher and charo: a duet of “America” from West Side Story—see previously  

nachtrรคglichkeit: Jude Stewart on sticking with German and the pursuit on bilingualism

parts of speech (10. 558)

Although seeming a relatively straightforward challenge for a language model we learn via the new shelton wet/dry that because GPT-2 and similar chatbots work sequentially and is only capable of predicting only the next word, one word at a time, researchers didn’t really know how the latest cadre of neural networks had a pretty good track record of knowing when to use the English indefinite article “a” over “an,” which really points to what an inscrutable black box that artificial intelligence presents and makes me wonder how it would handle languages with a high level of declinations or synthesis. Computer scientist have isolated a “neuron” of sorts—something that they didn’t program—that explains this anticipatory capacity.

Sunday, 12 February 2023

ๅ†…ๅท (10. 544)

Via Clive Thompson’s latest Linkfest (much more to see there), we are directed to an essay by rรซลŸt รดf wลrld contributor Yi-Ling Liu on the Chinese terms for burnout and the relentless push to get ahead—or just barely tread water with an assortment of phrases, some familiar and some novel—and how some of those buzzwords have inverted and signal despair rather than aspiration. We’d add the corollary shร ng ร n (making it ashore—getting a stable government position) to “jumping into the sea” and we’ve heard of the minor revolts of lying flat or letting it rot (with their analogues in the West quiet quitting, work-to-rule, Sciopero Bianco or generally a slowdown action) but the title term neijuan or “involution” was new to us as well. A loanword from an outdated treatise—which may have been a bit of political sublimation and apologetic for colonialism—that conjectures that agrarian societies, pointedly rice-growing ones, fail in achieving technological or political change because of intensive farming and increased pressures, externally and internally, to maintain this high yield with class structures meant to re-enforce that quota. Its original sense has been incrementally extended as a critique of income disparity—number two in the number of billionaires but also home to six hundred million others who subsist off less than $150 per month and of an exhaustive and overly-competitive work culture. The pictured, harried student of Tsing Hua University balancing his laptop on the handle bars of his bicycle has been adopted by the ‘Involuted Generation’ as their king.

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

7x7 (10. 513)

nothing, forever: an endless AI generated episode of Seinfeld, livestreamed—via Waxy 

construction spree: an annual survey of China’s Ugliest Buildings  

fictive flyover: still photographs of the Red Planet captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter transformed into a stunning video  

word of the day: eleemosynary—that which is supported by charity—and gives us the derived term alms  

he gets us: the billion dollar rebranding of Jesus—mostly financed through dark money, via Super Punch  

35f no pmh, p/w cp: OpenAI gives a correct diagnosis but can’t show its work, fabricating a fake citation for its conclusion—via the new shelton wet/dry  

yeldard: a forgotten British television oddity rediscovered in Paul Bradley