Archive for the ‘Language’ Category

Words this week

the doyen of ceiling frescos

Feckless –  irresponsible, inept, incompetent, ineffective, useless

Provenance – origin, or earliest known history of something

Doyen – the most respected or prominent person in a particular field

Also that the four advantages humans have over other animals that have allowed us to thrive are:

  • Intelligence
  • Language
  • Tools / dexterity
  • Cooperation

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To adumbrate is to outline or foreshadow.  The Latin root is of the same word as umbrage.  So it gives an idea or fairly suggest what might happen.

as a shadow previews a tree (flickr xctmx/155191402)

The breaking of the Berlin Wall adumbrated the breakup of the Soviet Union.

A shadow gives a fair idea of a tree, it approximates, it previews, it casts a representation, it adumbrates.

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Economist 7/9/11 Jon Berkeley / Corbis

Looking up one thing on the internet typically results in having a dozen tabs open across a wide range of topics.  I meant to find out a piece of information, instead I have wildly unrelated topics clamoring for action.  With the tone our generation has been taught to write in, each topic has an attacking sense of Urgency.    So I guess that’s what surfing is.   Today’s topics:

ProPublica is an investigative news center, supported by philanthropy, concentrating on collecting facts about the powerful oppressing the weak.

Leo at ZenHabits says this stuff:  “I’m always happy with what I’m doing, because I don’t compare it to anything else, and instead pay close attention to the activity itself…. Life will suck if you are always wishing you’re doing something else.

I was wondering what percentage of words start with consonants and what with vowels?  The answer is 27% vowels and 73% consonants.  I retrieved Chapter 27 of Huck Finn and today’s page of top tweets.  Both informal speech patterns, so perhaps a medical reference document would read diff’rnt’ly.  This alphabetize text tool made it work, along with wordcount, made it possible for even me who cannot write a script.

hucktweet data

Wordinsouciant :  Without worry.    Many people thinking about the U.S. debt and deficit are the opposite of insouciant.

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Some words we hear, guess by context what they mean, and we never get an actual definition.  These fit in that category for me – except for invigilator, that’s brand new to me.

Recidivism – “repeated or habitual relapse”.   Used in an Economist article about a lower crime rate.

Titivate – “to make smart or spruce”.    and usually applied in a double-entendre about tits.

Invigilators – “those who keep watch”.   in an article about standardized testing, and how the teachers cheat (like in Wash D.C. schools) by helping students, since their pay is affected by students’ results.   Now invigilators can be at computers thousands of miles away.

Redoubt –  “a standalone structure completely enclosed in a permanent fortification for defense.”  Bad guys in Somalia were found outside their redoubt and were killed.

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In another language post inspired by the facebook and google interaction with one calling another bad at privacy concerns…. I think of the phrase “the pot calling the kettle black”.   There’s a Wikipedia entry for the phrase with a list of other languages that have the same sentiment.  Faves are:

What're you looking at longears?

  • The blackbird to crow: “black tail!”
  • The thief shouting robber.
  • One donkey calls the other longears.
  • The owl says the sparrow has a large head.
  • A rag speaking ill of cloth.
  • Eye wax laughing at the snot

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word: skulduggery

Tricky tricky.  Dishonest trickery.

The Mercury News has an article on the revelation that Facebook was using a negative PR campaign against Google’s privacy policies.  All that fighting amongst billionaires aside, what I noticed was the word skulduggery.  Sound vaguely familiar, but had to look it up.

The Free Dictionary has this:  skull·dug·ger·y or skul·dug·ger·y n. pl. skull·dug·ger·ies or skul·dug·ger·ries
1. Crafty deception or trickery or an instance of it.

While Dictionary.com has this:   –noun, plural -ger·ies.
1. dishonorable proceedings; mean dishonesty or trickery:bribery, graft, and other such skulduggery.
2. an instance of dishonest or deceitful behavior; trick.

And going back a few centuries (according to Etymonline), it comes from the Scottish sculdudrie which meant adultery.   Somewhere along the lines it also gained an extra “l”, probably because we know the word “skull”…. so skullduggery is an alternate, acceptable spelling.

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I don’t have the word for it yet, this is just brainstorming.

We should change the image of SEO from optimization involving tricky methods to the original content creators that put valuable information on the web.  This was the message I heard from some of the speakers at linklove.   Makeinteresting, relevant, and helpful pages – a high but achievable goal.    Especially Rand seemed to have a passion that the focus should be on deserving the links and the traffic rather than just focusing on methods to get links to any page in question.   Make things people want to share.

You! What do you call you?

I don’t sense an overall negative impression to the term SEOs.  But then again I’ve never met Matt Cutts – maybe to the bigwigs of the wwweb seo means trickster.  Much like hacker meant tinkerer, or anyone just exploring the power of computers and pushing tech forward back in the day, eventually it took on a damage-inflicting negative connotation.  They tried to take the word back, and maybe they did successfully, or maybe some will always think hacker means good while others think hacker means bad.   If there is a negative impression to SEO, and what you really mean is an original content creator that also knows how to distribute said content effectively, then we simply need a new word.

Writer.  Designer.  Publisher.  PR man.  SEO.  Does that mean optimizer or super excellent originator?  You make the call.

There is no word yet.  It needs to mean all those things, and none of the negative.   Good guy. Non-spammer.   If you spam or otherwise do things bad for people, then you can’t be one of whatever this new word is.   Linklover, ha!  no that sounds spam-link-request-emailerific and a bit creepy. As Barry Toink said in one of the funniest sketch comedy moments of all time, “hello, como estas”, no wait, it’s “what do you call You?”

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