Language


Every social movement I have been involved with, or covered as a journalist, develops its own language of liberation, its own alphabet, and its own buzzwords, rhetoric and discourse. Here are some…


Robert Pigott reports on the controversial new Bible translation into Jamaican patois for BBC News Magazine: The Bible is, for the first time, being translated into Jamaican patois. It’s a move welcomed…


1950s-housewife-223x300Danielle Sucher’s Jailbreak the Patriarchy is a Chrome extension that substitutes the word “women” for “men” and “he” for “she” and so on within all text. The results are thought provoking — toggle between a patriarchal and matriarchal online world with the click of a button:

Jailbreak the Patriarchy genderswaps the world for you. When it’s installed, everything you read in Chrome (except for gmail, so far) loads with pronouns and a reasonably thorough set of other gendered words swapped. For example: “he loved his mother very much” would read as “she loved her father very much”, “the patriarchy also hurts men” would read as “the matriarchy also hurts women”, that sort of thing.

This makes reading stuff on the internet a pretty fascinating and eye-opening experience, I must say. What would the world be like if we reversed the way we speak about women and men? Well, now you can find out!


Sarcasm levels are ever-increasing in our modern world — perhaps a century from now, communications will contain more sarcastic expressions than sincere ones. So what is the value of being tongue-in-cheek? It…





John Blake reveals the doublespeak code words and phrases that Christians use to convey hidden meanings to one another, for CNN:

Can you speak Christian?

Have you told anyone “I’m born again?” Have you “walked the aisle” to “pray the prayer?”

Did you ever “name and claim” something and, after getting it, announce, “I’m highly blessed and favored?”

Many Americans are bilingual. They speak a secular language of sports talk, celebrity gossip and current events. But mention religion and some become armchair preachers who pepper their conversations with popular Christian words and trendy theological phrases…


A nonsensical waste of time? Goofy conceptual art? Or a magical cross-sensory experiment? A device that converts any word that you type into a cocktail, via Morskoiboy: My piece has buttons working…


vintage-color-wheel-6We think of a physical object’s being a certain “color” as a solid, immutable property (grass is green, lemons are yellow, et cetera). However, the way our brains see and process color is largely determined by the language we learned as an infant.

Case in point: the Himba tribe of remote northern Namibia, to whom water looks “white” like milk and the sky looks “black” like coal, and who struggle to distinguish between blue and green, yet can easily pick out micro-shades which Americans cannot see. Via BBC Horizon, a reminder that the world looks different to everyone:



The One True TOPI Tribe, thee OTTT, or simply TOPI (said like Hopi, see TOPI mission statement one), as you already know is a coum-Unity, a decentralized proccess network, founded by Genesis Breyer P-Orridge.(Genesis Breyer P-Orridge &…





Parapolitical notes the contrasting linguistic framing used by the Associated Press in two stories five decades apart: How does the Associated Press choose which unanimous votes to dismiss as the slavish resolutions…








Japan Earthquake 03/11/2011Interesting article from Leo Lewis in the Times from 2007, about how Japan nearly avoided a “nuclear power-quake disaster” back then. It always seems when these great disasters happen there was the one lone expert who no one took seriously. Leo Lewis writes”

Japan’s turbulent history of war and natural catastrophe has already given the world a terrifying vocabulary of death: tsunami, kamikaze, Hiroshima.

But the country now stands on the brink of unleashing its most chilling phrase yet: genpatsu-shinsai — the combination of an earthquake and nuclear meltdown capable of destroying millions of lives and bringing a nation to its knees.

The phrase, derived from the Japanese words for “nuclear power” and “quake disaster”, is the creation of Katsuhiko Ishibashi, Japan’s leading seismologist and one of the Government’s top advisers on nuclear-quake safety. He said that the world may never know how close it came to its first genpatsu-shinsai this week. Luck, as much an anything else, helped to avert it.


FriedmanNYPL2_FINALCabinet Magazine has a fascinating and mysterious article on William F. Friedman, perhaps the greatest code-breaker in modern history. Friedman became a hero of World War II by breaking Japan’s PURPLE code and inventing the Army’s best cipher machine. He did it all using the ‘biliteral cipher’, a simple but powerful encoding technique invented in the sixteenth century, which allows for hidden messages to be conveyed by anything from flower petals to musical notes to faces in a photograph:

It is unlikely that Bacon’s cipher system was ever used for the transmission of military secrets, in the seventeenth century or in the twentieth. But for roughly a century from 1850, it set the world of literature on fire.

A passion for puzzles, codes, and conspiracies fueled a widespread suspicion that Shakespeare was not the author of his plays, and professional and amateur scholars of all sorts spent extraordinary amounts of time, energy, and money combing Renaissance texts in search of signatures and other messages that would reveal the true identity of their author. Even after the recent publication of James Shapiro’s comprehensive history of the authorship controversy, Contested Will, it is difficult for us to appreciate the depth of conviction — among writers as diverse and as distinguished as Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Sigmund Freud, Henry James, Henry Miller, and even Helen Keller — that Shakespeare’s texts contained the secret solution to what was widely considered to be “the Greatest of Literary Problems.”…