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Visualizzazione dei post da agosto, 2010

OK: The Improbable Story of America's Greatest Word

Allan Metcalf It is said to be the most frequently spoken (or typed) word on the planet, more common than an infant's first word ma or the ever-present beverage Coke . It was even the first word spoken on the moon. It is "OK"-- the most ubiquitous and invisible of American expressions, one used countless times every day. Yet few of us know the secret history of OK--how it was coined, what it stood for, and the amazing extent of its influence. Allan Metcalf, a renowned popular writer on language, here traces the evolution of America's most popular word, writing with brevity and wit, and ranging across American history with colorful portraits of the nooks and crannies in which OK survived and prospered. He describes how OK was born as a lame joke in a newspaper article in 1839--used as a supposedly humorous abbreviation for "oll korrect" (ie, "all correct") --but should have died a quick death, as most clever coinages do. But OK was swept along in a

New edition of ODE

Other words and phrases introduced for the latest edition include ' toxic debt ', 'staycation ', ' cheesebal ' and 'national treasure' by Sam Jones The Guardian The Oxford Dictionary of English has added words such as vuvuzela to the latest edition. The World Cup in South Africa , climate change , the credit crunch and technology have all left their mark on the way we talk, the new edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English reveals, as the latest crop of new words to be added to its pages is published today . Football fans will perhaps be unsurprised to learn that the vuvuzela , whose apian drone soundtracked yet another summer of hurt, has blared its way into the dictionary's pages. By being ushered into the dictionary, which is based on how language is really used, the metre-long plastic horn has cemented its immortality as well as its ubiquity. Climate change , an issue only marginally less controversial than refereeing, has also made its mar

I wrote 2U B4! British Library shows up textspeak as soooo 19th century

New exhibition features Victorian poems written like text messages, the rise of RP, and battles over the letter H Mark Brown Arts correspondent A typical text message on a mobile phone. The British Library has unearthed examples of 19th century language using text msg abbreviation. GR8! If u really r annoyed by the vocabulary of the text generation , then a new exhibition at the British Library should calm you down. It turns out they were doing it in the 19th century – only then they called it emblematic poetry, and it was considered terribly clever. Details were announced today of the library's new exhibition devoted to the English language, exploring its 1,500-year history from Anglo-Saxon runes and early dictionaries to not dropping your Hs and rap. The exhibition will open this winter after three years of planning. One of the stars of the show will be the oldest surviving copy of Beowulf, the longest epic poem in Old English, which was written down at least 1000

The journalese blacklist becomes collaborative

published on: Johnson I'VE quickly become slack about maintaining my blacklist of tired phrases used by lazy journalists. (Seems this journalist is too lazy even to look for tired phrases.) But hooray! Someone has now starting doing it for me. A new web tool called Listiki lets people create lists of things and manage them collaboratively, and one Alison Gow ("Journalist, skier, biker. Usually in Liverpool, always over-caffenated") has created a list of journalistic clichés, to which 16 people have already contributed. Among them: Outpouring (of grief/support/etc) Grisly murders . Or brutal ones. " Plummeted " meaning "was down a bit" In scenes of reminiscent of (insert film/TV show here) Only time will tell (I haven't a clue) Yes, indeed. Will Listiki take off, and will this list turn into a comprehensive encyclopaedia of journalistic mediocrity? Only time will tell.

MPs told to mind their language

By Sean Curran Parliamentary Correspondent, BBC News Could the expenses scandal turn out to be good news for the English language? A group of MPs has been having a bit of end-of-term fun by talking about the sort of language used by politicians and civil servants. To help their plain English party go with a swing they invited along some star witnesses: Matthew Parris from The Times, The Guardian's political sketch-writer Simon Hoggart and Professor David Crystal, a linguistics expert from Bangor University. Everyone agreed that a lot of political speeches are gobbledygook , full of words and phrases like " stakeholder ", " multi-agency ", " level playing field ", " outsourcing " and " blue-sky thinking ". I could go on but that's part of the problem. Politicians do go on and on and on, inventing more and more gibberish. David Crystal pointed out: " politicians could not be accused of lying if nobody understood what they had

Don't be 404, know the tech slang!

A study of new slang terms entering English finds that technology is driving and perpetuating them. For instance, " 404 " - the error message given when a browser cannot find a webpage - has come to mean " clueless ". Slang lexicographer Jonathon Green says that some such terms and abbreviations come about because of the limited speed and space afforded by text messaging. Story from  BBC NEWS


Da Wikipedia Il leet (o anche l33t , 31337 o 1337 ) è una forma codificata di inglese caratterizzata dall'uso di caratteri non alfabetici al posto delle normali lettere (scelte per la semplice somiglianza nel tratto) o piccoli cambi fonetici. Il termine ha origine dalla parola "élite", in inglese di pronuncia simile a "leet", e si riferisce al fatto che chi usa questa forma di scrittura si distingue da chi non ne è capace. Il leet nasce anche dall'esigenza di memorizzare password di senso compiuto (quindi facili da ricordare) ma difficilmente riconoscibili. Il l33t era un modo valido per rendere il file riconoscibile a chi lo cercasse, mentre sfuggiva alle ricerche dei SysOp.

How the internet is changing language

By Zoe Kleinman Technology reporter, BBC News 'To Google' has become a universally understood verb and many countries are developing their own internet slang. But is the web changing language and is everyone up to speed? Technology and culture The internet prank was just one of several terms including " lurker ", " troll " and " caps ". According to David Crystal , honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Bangor, who says that new colloquialisms spread like wildfire amongst groups on the net. "The internet is an amazing medium for languages," he told BBC News. "Language itself changes slowly but the internet has speeded up the process of those changes so you notice them more quickly." People using word play to form groups and impress their peers is a fairly traditional activity, he added. "It's like any badge of ability, if you go to a local skatepark you see kids whose expertise is making a skateboard do

Dialetti della Rete, così Internet modifica la lingua

articolo tratto da La Stampa «To google» (cercare qualcosa su un motore di ricerca), «Apps» (applicazioni scaricabili e installabili sugli smatphones, telefonini di ultima generazione«), »Social Networking« (l’attività di di chi crea reti e connessioni sociali attraverso il web): sono questi alcuni dei termini, nati dalla rete Internet e oramai universalmente riconosciuti ed utilizzati. In ogni parte del mondo, infatti, sta nascendo e si sta diffondendo a macchia d’olio un vero e proprio »dialetto internettiano« che diventa peculiare e caratteristico di quel determinato Paese. E se in Ucraina le comunità che utilizzano Mac o Linux usano un vocabolario specifico, diverso da quello di coloro che preferiscono Microsoft, per le comunità anglofone, invece, sono diventati di culto alcuni siti internet che inventano ed insegnano giochi linguistici innovativi, come ad esempio il »Leetspeak«, un linguaggio nel quale alcune lettere vengono sostituite da numeri che derivano dai codici e ling

Generation X

published on: BBC A poem by so-called 'Mini Meee' written in txt talk Dear peers of mine wat r we thinkin? Our health and lives r slowly driftin. Can't u c ure hurtin each otha? Can't u c ure hurtin ya mothas? All this violence, sex and drugs, Ain't nuthin fun bout bustin slugs. My dear poor friends of Generation X, Can't u c u havin too much sex? Some girls in my school r pregnant and hopeless, Jus go to school be calm and stay focused. I had friends killed by drugs and drug relations, Please say no, let's fight against 'em. Do somethin' positive unlike dealin or doin, Jus' have fun by dancin or hoopin. So much in this world can kill in one second, Like guns 'n' knives, they're dangerous weapons. All these song bout shootin and chokin, U think thas cool? U must b jokin! Guns kill us quick, drugs kill us slow, Sex makes us kill a life before it even grows. Sex, drugs and violence, Jus be safe and practice abstinence. Please my Generat

Silly season

source: worldwidewords Mentioning silly season provoked me to look up where it comes from. As you may guess from its current circulation — the term is better known in Commonwealth countries than the US — it was a British invention. The Oxford English Dictionary cites it appearing first in the Saturday Review of London on 13 July 1861. I can find no earlier example. The Morning Chronicle referred to the term four days later, specifically mentioning the Saturday Review ; six months later an article in The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent likewise gave it as the source. Others followed. It would seem that it had indeed been created by a writer on that journal. It referred to the months of August and September, when Parliament and the law courts were on vacation and anybody of substance was away. (Today, the dates are variously specified to suit local conditions.) News was sparse and to fill their columns journalists were forced to feature less significant stories th

Do you speak Cameronese?

da: Repubblica Do you speak Cameronese?” è la domanda, semiseria of course, posta dal quotidiano Guardian di Londra ai suoi lettori. Non c’entra il Camerun. C’entra David Cameron, il nuovo primo ministro britannico. Il quale ha un accento inconfondibilmente “posh”, che rivela la sua appartenenza alle classi sociali privilegiate e la sua frequentazione delle migliori scuole e università del regno. In più, talvolta Cameron parla in modo un po’ particolare. In “Cameronese”, appunto. Quando un giornalista gli ha chiesto perchè, nei dibattiti televisivi in campagna elettorale, non ha parlato della sua idea di “ Big Society ” (Grande Società, ossia un modo di responsabilizzare e coinvolgere la gente), ha risposto: “Well, all the questions were rather subjecty subjects”. Che si può tradurre all’incirca così: “Bè, il fatto è che tutte le domande (del pubblico) erano su argomenti molto specifici”. Ma lasciamo stare il senso della frase: è quel “ subjecty subjects ” che ha attirato l’attenzione

'Delivery's out, implementation'a in': The civil servant's essential guide to Davespeak

By Mail On Sunday If you want to make it in the new Government, you need to know the lingo. So civil servants have produced a guide to ‘ speaking Cameron ’ to help its employees adjust to life under the Coalition. The briefing note, drafted by officials in Michael Gove’s Education Department – but expected to be emulated across Whitehall departments – is headlined ‘ language of the new Government ’. The memo – drawn up for the benefit of outside agencies hired to work for the department – is divided into two columns: words used before May 11 (the day Mr Cameron entered No 10) and those which should be adopted instead. The first word which the memo says should be dropped is ‘ State ’. The officials write that it should be substituted for Mr Cameron’s cherished concept of the Big Society , his idea that power should be taken away from Government and handed back to communities. The concept, which is thought to have been driven by Mr Cameron’s long-term image guru Steve Hilton, can be felt

Beach Blanket Lingo

By BEN ZIMMER When Jake Tapper of ABC’s “This Week” asked Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey last month for his opinion of the MTV reality series “Jersey Shore,” the contempt in the governor’s voice was obvious. “What it does is it takes a bunch of New Yorkers — most of the people on ‘Jersey Shore’ are New Yorkers — drops them at the Jersey Shore and tries to make America feel like this is New Jersey,” Christie said. In other words, in the parlance of the Jersey Shore, the show is about a bunch of bennies — disagreeable tourists from the metropolitan New York region who crowd the beaches every summer. When it comes to the seasonal exodus of sun worshipers to the Jersey Shore and other beach spots around the country, language can get fiercely local . It starts with the fundamentals: how do you describe your prospective trip to the beach? In Oregon, you might say you’re going “to the coast.” In New Jersey, you invariably go “down the shore.” Baltimore natives, meanwhile, say they’re goin

Coining suffixes: -tariat

by: Johnson GEOFF NUNBERG thinks he may have coined the word " logotariat ", and he's probably right. He googled it when he wrote it and found no hits (and five years ago, the internet already had around 10 trillion words on it). He's not certain, though—making certain would take "more intense Zimmering than I'm capable of". He might have coined a second word there; "to Zimmer" would be to trace a word back to its earliest usages, antedating others' claims of the first recorded usage, as Ben Zimmer (of the New York Times) expertly does. Back to "logotariat": Mr Nunberg's coinage shows not only how new words can come into the langauge, but how new suffixes do . " -tariat " is not, as far as I can tell, a traditional English suffix. It seems to have begun with two common words coming from French. Proletarius was the Latin term for a citizen of the lowest class in society. Prolétariat entered French to discuss the entir

Linguistics: Speaking of Space

published on: Time America's leap into space has stimulated science and spawned new industries. It has also created a new idiom: space-speak . Many a scientist finds the growing, and sometimes incomprehensible jargon essential to the simplest conversation about new devices and techniques. But many a layman has become convinced that it is only one more irritating and unnecessary obstacle looming between him and a better grasp of scientific accomplishment. In a detailed analysis of space-speak for the magazine Science, University of Michigan Psychologist David McNeill suggests that there is something to be said for both points of view. Creativity Limitation. Such space-speak metaphors as " umbilical " (the cord connecting a space-walking astronaut to his craft) and " milk stool " (the arrangement of a missile's three rocket engines) are vital additions to the language, says McNeill. He is equally impressed by such metonyms as " eyeballs in " and &qu

Jargon, Buzzwords and other Bad Biz Writing

By Ilya Leybovich Here we look at the worst examples of office-speak , along with some words that deserve a place in our professional vocabulary. Not all corporate buzzwords are without their usefulness. Everyone has encountered business jargon at one time or another. Whether hearing them from your boss, coworkers or customers, buzzwords can be a major source of irritation, obscuring rather than clarifying someone's point. There are, however, some types of bus iness lingo that can aid in effective communication. Knowing the difference between helpful business language and the kind that should be banned is an increasingly vital skill in today's communication-driven workplace. "When we talk about business jargon, we are generally referring to one of two things — words that are peculiar to a trade or words that are pretentious, unintelligible or gibberish," small business advisory Flying Solo explains. "And sometimes we can experience a spectacular combination of t

Decoding The Latest Business Buzzwords

published on: cbsnews MarketWatch's Marshall Loeb Translates Some Of The Latest Conference Room Lingo (MarketWatch) Buzzwords have always been a part of the business lexicon. But just like street slang, the language of business changes. For instance, today's business words are heavily influenced by the technological times we live in. From Megan Aemmer of MSN Encarta, here are some popular buzzwords to help you decode the jargon of today's business world: Offline: You speak to someone offline when you need to talk with them in person or one on one on the phone rather than via email or instant message. It can surface in a meeting or conference call, when some sensitive or long-winded issue comes up that can be discussed more privately or efficiently without the group. "Let's take that offline, after the meeting." Ping. Also Pinging: If you need to get someone's attention, you "ping" them, usually via email or instant message. Before the Internet,

Geek Speak

Have you ever been at a party with a bunch of "software industry" people and overheard a conversation that included something like this: " I was sitting in the cube farm checking out the dead tree edition of the Times when some idea hamster comes in to ask for my help on a project. I told him I didn't have enough bandwidth to support him--that he should go find some gray matter to help him out ." Sound like a different language? It is. An entire lexicon of " geek speak " has emerged from the world of hardware and software. But the next time you feel left out at a party full of mouse potatoes, you can show your savvy by speaking the lingo. If you do it well enough, you might even be mistaken for the alpha geek. Alpha geek: The most knowledgeable, technically proficient person in an office or work group. "Ask Larry, he's the alpha geek around here." Bandwidth: The ability to juggle or handle an excessive amount of stuff. "I'm rea

The English language is a vast restaurant kitchen

posted on: The English language is a vast restaurant kitchen. New words and phrases are brought in, cooked up, served to customers and thoughtfully chewed. Most are quickly spit out in disgust. But sometimes an offering is tasty enough to add to the menu. Wordspy .com collects some of the more popular selections. So take a nibble. downager : A person who acts younger than his or her age. meh-sayer : A person who expresses indifference or apathy toward something. sexsomnia : A sleep disorder in which a person engages in sexual behavior while asleep. recombobulate: To recover from a state of confusion or disorganization. jihobbyist: A person who is interested in and sympathetic to the goals of radical Islam, but who is not a member of a radical group. nutritarian: A person who chooses foods based on their micronutrient content. auto-eating: Eating without thinking or being hungry. hurry sickness: A malaise where a person feels chronically short of time, and so tends t

Decoding Business Buzzwords

published on: CNN From " scalable " to " enterprise ," many words enter our business lingo, but some say they're just mumbo-jumbo. Here's the plain English explanation of buzzwords that can leave you going "huh?": In the business world, we tend to be overly fond of fancy words and phrases, says a recent article from the Associated Press. For example, high-tech companies don't simply make products, they "provide solutions." And those solutions don't simply perform tasks, they give us "experiences." In short, we've gotten carried away--something that tech terminology expert Alan Freedman realized when people started asking him to decode the marketing materials of technology companies. And this marketing speak is supposed to get people to purchase products. Even Freedman, who's written technology encyclopedias for 25 years, is left confused by the latest slew of buzzwords. "The marketing people are so bad at

Cloud Compunding's World of Acronyms: Enter at Your Own Risk

published on: With Forrester Research's help, I attempt to demystify the Cloud flavors known as SaaS , PaaS and IaaS for enterprise software. What hasn't the high-tech industry done to the poor "Cloud Computing" moniker? For the past couple years or so, "The Cloud" has been hyped up like a LeBron James appearance, contorted like a Yoga-practicing Swami, poked and prodded again and again, and then hijacked by just about every apps vendor in the known universe. Sucked up in the marketing vortex of cloud computing's hurricane were software-delivery models SaaS (software-as-a-service) and "Web-based" or "on-demand" computing. Along for the ride now—and further flummoxing market watchers and IT customers—are more aaS's: PaaS (platform-as-a-service) and IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) . (And don't forget about "private" and "public" clouds!) Perhaps our favorite was the Governance-as-a-Servi