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.)
Breakfastarian: “A person who recognizes the superiority of breakfast over other meals. A person who eats only breakfast foods” (Urban Dictionary, July 20, 2013). A blend of breakfast with the Latinate suffix -arian, denoting “association with a place or thing or idea.” Compare vegetarian, fruitarian, and breatharian (and contrast omnivore, locavore, and carnivore, in which -vore comes from a Latin root meaning “to devour.”)
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.
Stuart Elliott, who used to be the New York Times’s advertising columnist, now writes about ads for Media Village. Here’s his take on the commercials that aired during Super Bowl 50. (“Though it's the biggest feel-good day of the year, Madison Avenue tried hard to bring viewers down – not only with those commercials, but also with spots with strange, off-putting and downright weird characters and premises.”
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.
If you’re joining us late, here’s how the game is played: The name must consist of “Mister” or “Mr.” plus some generic noun (or, occasionally, verb). “Mister Smith”—a business owned by John Smith—wouldn’t make the cut, but “Mister Blacksmith” would, if the company manufactured, say, horseshoes or wrought-iron fences.
The headline is inaccurate and inadequate— “words” don’t “become startups”—and I take issue with the snarky attitude, but this list of short “real” (dictionary) words used as names of startups is worth a look. And the way they’re organized is downright poetic. (Hat tip: Karen Wise.)
Speaking of poetic, the New Yorker’s Rebecca Mead consideredthe favorite words of some writers (mostly British and Irish)—Hilary Mantel loves nesh, Taiye Selasi celebrates the Ghanaian colloquialism chale—and added a favorite of her own.