the listenerd

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Category: language

Language: neologisms and sensitivities

I’m not a natural writer. A terrible one? Frequently. An accidental one? Pretty much. A passable one? Once in a while. A natural one? Never. (Here’s a natural one.)

Anyway, it’s always a struggle (even to write a couple hundred words for work or a longer blog post for the ‘nerd). But despite that struggle – or maybe because of it – I take a special interest in language I find that’s compelling, or even just new. Sometimes full-blown prose captures my imagination (more on that soon), but often I’m just as interested in simply collecting (and watching develop) neologisms.

Here are a couple words – new or new to me – that have pumped through my feed reader recently:

*Funemployment: The idea that the idle time coming from being laid off is enjoyed by some.

*Ethonomics: Ethical economics. Or the overlap between what’s good (social ethics) with traditional economics.

*Plastectomy: The ritual burning, cutting or other destruction of credit cards. [murketing]

*Further, Mark Peters on GOOD recently wrote about America’s collective “Syndrome Syndrome” and the weight the word “syndrome” now pulls in the English language. Writes Peters “Other words are workaholics, pulling triple shifts and all-nighters, describing stuff that is deadly serious, kind of serious, totally ridiculous, and everything in between. Syndrome is one of these overachievers.”

A tangentially related item he doesn’t talk about is one we’ve addressed extensively (and for years) at my day job: the creep of “sensitivity.” The sensitivity – not a full-blown allergy, but still something that carries the sound of a “condition” – now, to an often absurd degree – protects people from annoyances ranging from the serious to the frivolous, from co-workers wearing too much perfume to the burden of having to wear clothing with unnatural fibers.

While we as a culture may have a syndrome syndrome, personally, I have a sensitivity sensitivity.

On Language: portmanteau disease

Off music, on language: Propagated in part by blogs like BuzzFeed (who has been something of a leader in spotting symptoms of portmanteau disease), a number hybrid physical or mental conditions with one unifying theme – awesomely bullshittish portmanteaeu names – have gained a foothold in the culture of late.

Some of them: drunkorexia, sexsomnia, connectile dysfunction. I would also recommend checking out the Phobia List, though items on this list seem to be more mainstream.

Future (or currently under-reported) conditions:
*rageorexia (thinness due to rage)
*scrabies (a combination of scabies and rabies)
*drunkoholic (someone who keeps getting drunk)
*drunkomnia (inability to sleep due to drunkeness)
*portmanteau disease (urge to combine words)

Neologia: Buzzwords for this year

The New York Times Week in Review rolls out a list of buzzwords for 2007, including:

*earmarxist: “A member of Congress who adds earmarks — money designated for pet projects — to legislation.”

*FTW: “For the win,” a term that will be well-known to avid net surfers, since it was tired before it was even introduced.

A few of this year’s goodies from the listenerd archive:

*shitfacedbooking: Facebooking while drunk.

*butterfaith: A woman who is hot, but for her religiosity.

*go ham on ’em: To bring the mayhem.

*BONUS – On Douchebags: The Deets brings the Delta Bravo.

Language: A proliferation of twollipses?

I have been seeing with greater frequency the usage of what is – to me, at least – a new, mostly-online language marker: the two-dotted ellipsis, or, as I am calling them: twollipses.

In informal communication (e-mail, IM, social media) I’ve noticed an increasing use of two dots rather than three to form an ellipsis-like marker. I don’t think, though, that the twollipsis’ introduction is merely laziness, error, or a change in how we ellipsify things. The twollipsis instead seems have a meaning distinct from from its three-dotted cousin.

While the 3-dotter’s meaning and usage are established (pause and omission), in my experience, the 2-dotter seems to be a slightly smaller conversational opening. It indicates not the clear, (and rather dramatic, in the context of most social media) 3-dot conversational space, but rather a mere willingness to carry a topic forward.

I fully realize that I could be wrong, and that it may simply be expediency or laziness (great drivers for shifts in how we communicate) driving the two-dot emergence. (Or perhaps I’m imagining the entire phenomenon!) Maybe someone at Language Log or some other font of linguistic knowledge can set me straight on this matter. (Side note: I realize this is not nearly as interesting a linguistic investigation as the Great Minneapolis Douchebag thread, but it struck me as something worth taking a look at nonetheless.)

Theory: The triumvirate of rhetoric

The one thing writers should know: People hate reading.
The one thing speakers should know: People hate listening.

Hence, the triumvirate of rhetoric:


Words and things: Connectile dysfunction, flexting and shitfacedbooking

Matters of language you may/should find interesting:

*connectile dysfunction – the inability to keep an internet or cellphone connection. [via]

*flexting – flirting via text message. (This follows on blirting of several years ago, which is flirting via blackberry.) [via]

*shitfacedbooking – using Facebook while inebriated. [via]

You may now once again go about your business.

WORDS: Tardimals, vaginads

*Vaginads: Advertising strategically placed on a woman’s body.

*Tardimals: Tinies, apparently, are very small characters such as are possible to play in Second Life. Tardimals are a special flavor of tinies – equally small, but unhealthy-looking and possibly “deformed.”

On language: facebook suicide, fixies of hipsters, business time

*Facebook suicide – Forcing one’s self to stop social networking; leaving Facebook.

*A fixie of hipsters – as reported by Kottke, the fixie is a potential collective noun for this elusive group.

*Business time: From the HBO show Flight of the Conchords, business time refers to a predetermined appointment to have sexual relations. In my humble opinion, it may also be used more generically to indicate any period which would have heretofore been called “go time.”

Music hunting on the Vicipaedia Latina (Latin Wikipedia)

The Wall Street Journal writes up the Vicipaedia Latina – the Latin version of Wikipedia – calling it a labor of love for “weekend philologists” who often have to linguistically improvise in order to keep with the times. (I love weekend philology!)

Here’s the Latin entry for the Beatles. And here is the entry for rock music, or musica rockica. Lastly, Apple Computatra (but there’s no iPod entry!).

The neologistics of Labor Day Weekend

Neologisms seen, heard or thought this weekend:

Jardonnay = White wine so cheap it’s fit only to be consumed from a jam jar = jardonnay. (After 1 beer & 2 jars of jardonnay.) [CK]

Flavorflavaphobia = fear of a Black Planet [TEKDIFF via]

Cruelhunting = Ashley, Gunther and Lauren Caitlin. [JK]

Threeologism = a trifecta of neologisms. [JK]