Good news for liberal-arts majors: “Behind Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana are not just software engineers. Increasingly, there are poets, comedians, fiction writers, and other artistic types charged with engineering the personalities for a fast-growing crop of artificial intelligence tools.” (“The Next Hot Job in Silicon Valley Is for Poets,” Washington Post.)
It seems like only yesterday – it was, in fact, just over two months ago – that linguists and political pundits were parsing schlonged, a derivative of a Yiddish vulgarism for “penis” that had been emitted by presidential front-runner Donald J. Trump in his disparagement of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton (“she got schlonged”).
It turns out that was just a warmup for the current penis-palooza we’re now seeing in commercial and political language. And it’s not just any old male genitalia that are commanding center stage: it’s undersized ones.
It’s been a while since I’ve written about nearly swearyadvertising here. (It’s not as though I’ve taken a vow of purity: I’ve been shoveling that stuff over at the Strong Language blog.) But when I spotted a trifecta of fecal facetiousness within a span of a week, I just couldn’t hold back.
Mastermind: An outstanding or commanding mind or intellect; a person with such a mind. Also: a person who plans and directs a complex and ingenious enterprise, especially a criminal operation. (Both definitions via Oxford English Dictionary online.) The original usage of mastermind – a brilliant person – first appeared in the late 17th century; the second originated in 1872, in a passage written by Anthony Trollope. The verb to mastermind first appeared in a 1923 baseball story published in the Salt Lake City Tribune: “Little Miller Huggins did a bit of masterminding himself in that stirring eighth.”
God, or those who claim to speak on His/Her/Their behalf, has had a busy week.
In Rowan County, Kentucky, an elected official named Kim Davis, apparently misremembering that she is paid to render unto Caesar,cited “God’s authority” as the reason she has defied the law of the land and refused to grant marriage certificates to same-sex couples. She’s been held in contempt of court and, as of this writing, is in a county detention center.
Meanwhile, “Hand of God,” a new original series from Amazon, is available for streaming today. I’ve seen only the trailer for the nine-part series, which the New York Times’s Mike Hale called “a California neo-noir thriller” and which centers on a judge (played by Ron Perlman, whom you may remember as Hellboy) who believes he can hear the voice of God, but I can’t help imagining the fictional Judge Pernell Harris meeting the real Ms. Kim Davis in court.
And “Hand of God” isn’t the only deity-themed entertainment in the news. Cast thine eyes on this holy-ish trinity:
How do you translate a colloquial, nonliteral expression like Trainwreck—the title of the new Amy Schumer feature film—into non-English languages? IMDb has a list of global akas; Mashable has helpfully re-translated some of them. (Not included in the Mashable list: Y de repente tú (“And suddenly you”), probably the most romantically inclined of the bunch. In France, by the way, the official title is Crazy Amy—yes, in English.
Translation of the French Canadian title, Cas désespéré.
Three guys were watching HBO’s “Silicon Valley” when it occurred to them to create a dictionary of jargon used on the show. The result is Silicon Valley Dictionary, where you’ll find definitions for terms like This changes everything (“Nothing has changed. Pure marketing”) and Awesome journey (“used when a startup has failed”).