Tag Archives | Language

The Personal Is Not Political

Personal is PoliticalVia The First Church of Mutterhals:

The phrase ‘the personal is political’ always bugged me, but I could never articulate why. There’s just something off about it, like conflating religious belief and science, or the mixture of church and state. I was recently reading the Christopher Hitchens autobiography and I came by this quote regarding the inception of the phrase:

“At the instant I first heard this deadly expression, I knew as one does from the utterance of any sinister bullshit that it was — cliché is arguably forgivable here — very bad news.”

He goes on to say that now you only needed to flout your attachment to whatever arbitrary delineation (as he brilliantly puts it, “a member of a sex, or gender, or epidermal subdivision, or even erotic “preference,”) to be considered a revolutionary. This is coming from a person who wears his arrest record proudly, having been done in for numerous protests and rallies and the kind of rabble rousing people my age and younger can’t even imagine.… Read the rest

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Six Easy Theses – Tools for Cosmological Discussion

sacred_scienceEnjoy as I have the recent posts concerning God and the New Atheists (great band name btw), and there is nothing as comical to me as reading atheists argue for the futility of engaging in these arguments, I do think that the ground needs a little clarifying so that these discussions, that I believe have value in the platonic sense, can gain some traction given a few tools to help the language.

The dichotomy between theism and atheism is perhaps a step of generality too far, and leads one to engage in those kinds of circular arguments that both sides find frustrating.  So I propose the following terms, in order to help us identify our beliefs, or non-beliefs, in a way that fosters informed discussion.

1. There are at least 2 types of atheists. One I will call the Micro-Atheist, that type of person who approaches the cosmos without the need to ascribe consciousness to things he/she has no evidence to support.  The Micro-Atheist is the quietest type since he/she admits that his/her non-belief is simply grounded in not having any first hand experience of such evidence.  The second type I will call the Macro-Atheist.  This latter type approaches the cosmos with scientific rationality, and supposes that such scientific principles are universal, and given the inability of theists to prove their claims, these atheists propose that there is no divine consciousness directly influencing human affairs.  And this is a reasonable assertion, however, it is still an assertion.… Read the rest

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The Most Annoying Word (What)Ever

Personally I would have voted for “like,” as more people than I care to think of are incapable of voicing a thought without using that once useful but now despicable word. “Whatever” is also fairly heinous, though! From Reuters:

Whatever you think about using grating words, at the end of the day it’s actually better not to say whatever, if you know what I mean.

WHATEVER

For the second consecutive year “whatever’ topped a Marist poll as the most annoying word or phrase in the English language.

Nearly 39 percent of 1,020 Americans questioned in the survey deemed it the most irritating word, followed by “like” with 28 percent and the phrase “you know what I mean’ at 15 percent…

[continues at Reuters]

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Top New Words For 2011: Palinism, Obama-mess

2011‘Palinism and ‘Obama-mess’ are funny, but what has me worried is the prediction that we’ll all be talking about the Great Recession in 2011. The Global Language Monitor has released their top 10 words to be in vogue in 2011:

  1. Twenty-Eleven – The English-speaking world has finally agreed on a common designation for the year: Twenty-eleven far outstrips ‘two thousand eleven’ in the spoken language. This is welcome relief from the decade-long confusion over how to pronounce 2001, 2001, 2003, etc.
  2. Obama-mess – David Letterman’s neologism for 2010 also works for 2011. This word is neutral. If Obama regain his magic, he escaped his Obama-mess; if his rating sinks further he continues to be engulfed by it.
  3. Great Recession – Even the best case scenario has the economy digging out of this hole for the foreseeable future.
  4. Palinism – Because the media needs an heir to Bushisms and Sarah Palin is the candidate of choice here.
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Kanji Character List Gets First Update In 30 Years

Young woman practicing kanji. Ukiyo-e woodblock print by Yoshu Chikanobu, 1897

Via The Japan Times:

The government on Tuesday updated the list of kanji designated for everyday use for the first time in 29 years, deleting five and adding 196, including difficult-to-write characters that have become easier to use with computers.

The new total is 2,136

In the postwar period, the list was first compiled in 1946, when 1,850 kanji were approved for common use. It was revised in 1981 to 1,945 characters.

In line with the new list announced by the Cabinet Office, the Justice Ministry revised a ministerial order to reflect the changes in its list of kanji that can be used for people’s names

The education ministry revised its curriculum guidelines to ensure that junior high school students can read most of the new characters.

Government documents will be written in accordance with the new list.
The reform reflects that the widespread use of personal computers and mobile phones has generally made it easier for people to write kanji.

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Ignorant Sarah Palin Stumbles Into Creating ‘Word Of The Year’

Whatever your feelings about Sarah Palin, you have to admit that she certainly seems to know how to fail upwards. Mock her all you like for using the non-word “refudiate,” but she’s having the last laugh as it now becomes the New Oxford American Dictionary’s ‘Word of the Year.” Nick Bilton reports in his Bits blog for the New York Times:
palin tweet

At the start of the year the word “refudiate” didn’t exist. In mid-July Sarah Palin, Alaska’s former governor, changed that when she used the word in a Twitter message, somehow mashing up “refute” and “repudiate,” while trying to say something like “reject.”

Now refudiate has been named the word of the year by the New Oxford American Dictionary, published by the Oxford University Press, beating out a number of other locutions — many technology-related — that have spread through the language and the Web over the past year.

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New Language Discovered In India

Cultures about to be lost, are still being found. The new language discovered in India, Koro, leaves more questions than answers. From Discovery News:
A team of linguists announced Tuesday that they have discovered a new and unique language, called Koro, in northeastern India, but immediately warned that it was highly endangered. Only around 800 people are believed to speak the Tibeto-Burman language, and few of them are under the age of 20, according to the researchers who discovered Koro during an expedition as part of National Geographic's "Enduring Voices" project. The language, they said, has never been written down.
Continues at Discovery News ... From National Geographic:
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Oxford English Dictionary Includes ‘Web Lingo’

The Oxford English Dictionary is keeping up with the times, integrating “web slang” into the dictionary. Can’t kids just these slang words up online? CNN reports:

Are years of e-mails, text messaging and status updates finally affecting the written word?

#nokidding.

The venerable Oxford American Dictionary has added a ginormous (adj., not included) list of words inspired by the interweb (noun, included).

The next time you look up a word, expect to see lots of abbreviations, webspeak and casual slang.

The New Oxford American Dictionary has added cultural slang in the past, but never as aggressively as it has in the latest edition.

Its big brother, the less frequently updated Oxford English Dictionary, is also going through major changes.

Continues at CNN

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How to Respect Sex Workers

Monica Shores on Alternet writes a great short piece with links for further research on how to respect sex workers:

Most women have strong feelings about the sex industry, be they for or against. (And many, of course, remain undecided.) When dealing with such an emotionally volatile topic, it’s easy to inadvertently silence or even insult sex workers themselves. (As a participant in sex worker activism for the past four years, I’ve seen that in action and on the page.) There’s a way to debate commercial sex while respecting the industry’s laborers. Here are some suggestions:

1) Don’t diminish or mock sex workers’ agency. When discussing a person coerced or forced into sex work, a sensitive recognition of the violation they’ve suffered is definitely in order. However, it’s important to let individuals themselves make this distinction, rather than automatically assigning them a label that indicates lack of agency. For instance, referring to all sex workers as “prostituted” or “used” can be violating in and of itself if the person identifies their work as a free choice.

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