Don’t read “How to Name a Baby” to learn how to name a baby. Read it for insights into historical baby-naming trends and to confirm your hunches (e.g., “the popular girl name Reagan is for Republicans”). Also: charts!
Given names are “one of the last social acceptable frontiers of class war.”Also: nominative determination, implicit egotism, and how the Internet has made baby naming more difficult. Part 1 of a four-part podcast series about names from Australian radio network ABC. The presenter, Tiger Webb, has an interesting name story himself. (Hat tip: Superlinguo.)
The not-so-secret jargon of doctors is full of acronyms: a flea—fucking little esoteric asshole—is an intern, an FLK is a “funny-looking kid,” and an “SFU 50 dose” is the amount of sedative it takes for 50 percent of patients to shut the fuck up.
Ever wonder what value-creating winners do all day? Here’s Business Town to enlighten you. It’s “an ongoing project attempting to explain our highly intangible, deeply disruptive, data-driven, venture-backed, gluten-free economic meritocracy to the uninitiated. With apologies to Richard Scarry.”
“The decision is made. The name won’t be changed.” – Tim Mahoney, head of marketing for Chevy, speaking to the Detroit Free Press about the Bolt electric vehicle, whose name is strikingly similar to that of the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid. In fact, a Spanish speaker would pronounce the two names identically. (Hat tip: Jonathon Owen.)
When I was a kid we called them “thongs” or “zoris.”
What exactly can you expect when you commission a $5 logo from Fiverr? To find out, Sacha Greif invented a company (“SkyStats”) and tested the waters. Among his conclusions: “Fiverr apparently sees nothing wrong with designers appropriating other people’s work. And not only do they tolerate it, they even directly profit from it since they feature these fake work samples prominently.”
Cherevin may be the evil aggressors of economic warfare, but I’d love to have them as a client. They could teach me about propping up housing markets, and I might be able to offer them a nugget or two about reducing security breaches through better interaction design. Plus, I bet it’s fun to get a project brief with the objective of ‘instilling fear and obedience.’
UPDATE: This morning (June 18), the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, an independent tribunal of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, recommended that the federal registrations for “Redskins” trademarks be cancelled. Read the TTAB fact sheet.
Power Vocab Tweet was invented by the creator of Everyword, which recently completed its mission to tweet every word in the English language.From the blog:
On the surface, Power Vocab Tweet is a parody of “word-of-the-day”blogs and Twitteraccounts. My real inspiration, though, comes from the novel Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin. In that book, a group of underground linguists invent a language (Láadan) that “encodes” in its lexicon concepts that aren’t otherwise assigned to words in human languages. …
The definitions are generated via Markov chain from the definition database in WordNet. The words themselves are generated from a simple “portmanteau” algorithm; each word is a combination of two “real” English words of the appropriate part of speech. (The forms of the words and text used to generate the associated definition aren’t related.)
Apple introduced its looped-square “control” icon⌘ in 1983, but the symbol’s origins go back to sixth-century Scandinavia. Tom Chatfield traces the historyof the symbol also known as “St. John’s Arms.”
The dripping-heart symbol was created “in a few hours” by a Finnish graphic designer, Leena Snidate, for the security firm Codenomicon. “Heartbleed” was originally Codenomicon’s internal code name; the bug’s official name is CVE-2014-0160. CVE stands for “common vulnerabilities and exposures.” Read more about Heartbleed in TechCrunchand in Fast Company Design.
And here’s naming news from another corner of the animal kingdom: The Scientific American blog Running Ponies reports on six new species of “child-eating Dracula ants” with “cool ninja names”: Shadow, Labyrinth, and Mirror. The scientific name for this ant subfamily is Amblyoponinae; the genus name, Mystrium, was chosen to evoke “the uncertainty surrounding their general biology, ecology and behaviour.” (Via Our Bold Hero.)
“In the globalized, consumption-fired 21st century, branding is the air we breathe,” writes Frank Viviano in the Spring 2014 issue of California, the Cal Alumni Association magazine. “The Plato and Newton of that volatile universe is David Aaker, a congenial professor emeritus of UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, born and raised in the placid calm of Fargo, North Dakota.” Aaker is vice chairman of the global brand consultancy Prophet, the author of the influential business book Brand Relevance, and the creator of the Aaker Model, which, writes Viviano, “asserts that a brand is a vital form of corporate equity, a measurable asset whose value is as important to a business as its capital infrastructure and staff.”
The headline says “On the Internet, All the Good Company Names Are Taken,” but the story (in the Globe and Mail) is really about a different problem. “For all its focus on innovation and disruption, the tech startup world can be downright risk-averse when it comes to naming conventions,” notes tech reporter Omar El Akkad.
Christopher Nolan’s Inception, released by Warner Bros. [in 2010], based on an original script by Nolan, is one such film that many in the industry doubted would open at the time, as it had no famous title or comic-book hero to hang its hat on. But it opened liked gangbusters due to a brilliant marketing campaign. This is why people like Warner Bros. president of worldwide marketing Sue Kroll are the new Hollywood stars.
“[T]here is good news for Moses and Noah fans,” wrote a New York Times book reviewer in her brief review of Obst’s book: “Hollywood has recently realized that Bible stories have preawareness.”
The earliest citations I found for this marketing sense of “pre-awareness” are from 2009. This one is from a November 17, 2009, post on the Adaddinsane blog, which is written by an anonymous web developer and screenwriter in London:
“Pre-awareness” is the movie industry buzzword it’s fashionable for writers to hate. It’s the word that gives us endless sequels, remakes (“re-imaginings”) and adaptations, and an apparent fear of original ideas.
There is an ordinary word that covers the concept: familiarity.
Slow-rolling (gerund, participle): Delaying a response, postponing an action, or obstructing a process. Also slow rolling, slowrolling.
“Slow-rolling” originated in poker jargon, where it refers to “having the winning hand (often a massive hand) and taking a long time to show the hand when asked to declare. Considered bad etiquette.” (Source: PokerTips.org.)
It’s also used to describe political processes.
Bob Garfield, host of the weekly public-radio show “On the Media,” used “slow-rolling” in an October 13 segment about the Obama administration and the press:
And then there’s the kind of soft obstructionism, and we’ve had this experience with the Department of Homeland Security just in the past few weeks. We call, with some fairly innocuous questions, and they say, “Well, we have to get back to you on that.” They never get back to you. It’s sometimes called slow-rolling.
“Slow-rolling” leaped to national prominence in August of this year, when Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., accused the Internal Revenue Service of obstructing a Congressional investigation:
“You are slow-rolling us,” Issa told acting IRS head Danny Werfel in a heated exchange during a committee hearing Friday. “There are important facts to get out, and you are obstructing.”
The term has been circulating in political and media circles for most of the last decade. In September 2004, during the Bush-Kerry presidential campaign, the New York Timesreported that “federal agencies across the vast Washington bureaucracy have delayed completion of a range of proposed regulations from food safety and the environment to corporate governance and telecommunications policy until after Election Day, when regulatory action may be more politically palatable”:
While the delay of completing rules, known to lobbyists and policy makers as “slow rolling,”' is common in a campaign season, some environmental groups and consumer advocates say this year is different.
And in December 2004, after George W. Bush was re-elected, ConsortiumNews.com led a post-election story with this paragraph:
George W. Bush’s political allies appear to be slow-rolling a requested recount in Ohio, leaving so little time that even if widespread voting fraud is discovered, the finding will come too late to derail Bush’s second term.
How many languages can you identify from 20-second audio samples? Play the Great Language Game and find out. The game is multiple choice; selecting between two samples—say, Hindi vs. Italian—is relatively easy, but just wait till you get to the Bosnian-Serbian-Maltese-Estonian matchup.
“Italian doesn’t have a y in native words but has no problem with the ones from English, as with Milan’s CityLife.” – Linguist Will Leben on how names and words cross borders.
From Bryan A. Garner, editor-in-chief of Black’s Law Dictionary and author of the indispensable Garner’s Modern American Usage, comes a challenging vocabulary quiz. It’s aimed at lawyers, but all 20 words are ones a well-read layperson should know. (To answer your question: I scored 19/20. And I’m not going to tell you which word tripped me up.)
I linked to the UK creative agency Asbury & Asbury earlier this month, in my post about Yahoo’s new logo. But I can’t resist sharing a couple more links to the clever work of this unusual team: Hall of Unwanted Dotcoms (“a list of 20 unclaimed addresses, all fewer than seven letters, one syllable and easy to pronounce”) and Corpoetics (“a collection of ‘found’ poetry from the websites of well-known brands and corporations”).
* As it happens, I have a relative named Joshua J. Friedman, but he isn’t this reporter.
The headline calls them “30 Most Overused Buzzwords in Digital Marketing,” but one of them, “P-commerce” (“participatory commerce” or “Pinterest commerce,” depending, I suppose, on context), is underused in my world: it was new to me. I’ve definitely seen a lot of “gamification,” though.
“I’m sorry to say that gamification (a verbing in -ify from the noun game) is not some twisted invention of Scott Adams’s,” linguist Arnold Zwicky wrote in a May 20 post on his blog. Zwicky devoted most of his post to a discussion of “garbage,” and concluded: “So the pointy-headed boss’s gamification rewards count as garbage, trash, and rubbish, maybe junk as well, and are on their way to becoming waste and refuse.”
One of the words on the “30 most overused” list, “showrooming,” was a Fritinancy word of the week in April 2012.
“The Art of the Brick,” Edward Sawaya’s new exhibit at Discovery Times Square, is “a Legoistic survey of art masterpieces,” according to a recent New York Times review that introduced me to the acronym AFOL: Adult Fan of Lego. AFOL and many other Lego terms – but not “Legoistic,” which is wonderful – are defined in the Lego Glossary. (“SNOT: Studs Not On Top. A building technique that places LEGO elements on their sides or even upside down to achieve the shape or structure the builder wants in their creation.”)
“Lego,” in case you didn’t know, is a contraction of Danish leg godt: “play well.” It’s never pluralized. Here’s the Lego Glossary entry for “Legos”:
Oh no you didn’t! Technically, the official plural form for more than one element of LEGO is “LEGO® brand building bricks”. That’s ridiculous, though, so most LEGO fans refer to one or more bricks as “LEGO”, following the grammatical convention of “fish” and “sheep.”
Insisting on all capitals, however, is just silly.
Linguist Arika Okrent, author of In the Land of Invented Languages, looks at 12 old words – kith, wend and eke among them -- that have survived by being fossilized in idioms.
After 60 years of sanctions, Coca-Cola is back in Myanmar (Burma). How to sell Coke to people who’ve never tasted it? “They had to keep it simple, and they had to find the right message. A message, it turns out, that was hidden more than a hundred years back in the Coca-Cola archives.”
TICK-TOCK journalists argot for story listing chronology leading up to a major announcement or event. ... A tick-tock (the metaphor, obviously, of a clock moving toward a fateful hour) is often written with boldface dates indicating significant meetings or preliminary events, and is more reportorial than a “think piece” or "thumbsucker”…
Q.And what made you decide to do away with titles?
A. We eliminated them early on because we started getting all this title creep. Someone came to me once and said we had 15 titles or something, and I said: “That’s it. We’re done. No more.” I don’t want people to aspire to get a higher title. I want people to aspire to take on more responsibility. More responsibility gets them more recognition. …
Q. But you must have some hierarchy.
A. Everyone has managers, but the elimination of titles means that everyone has a right to state their opinion. We define levels by the responsibility you have in the company. So I am a “shape.” Most of the folks on the leadership team are shapes. We help shape the direction of the company. The people next level down are “guides.” The level below that are “drives,” and below that are “solves” and then there are “creates.” A working group came up with those levels. I just think they nailed it.