It’s quite difficult, to fight back against the seeming wisdom of axiomatic “truths,” when the language itself has been weaponized through the power of pattern. Through rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, and consonance.
The last time I was in England was at the invitation of Nomensa, to give a talk at a conference wherein I encouraged the audience to discard an axiom that I feel has done users of the English language more harm than good through endless and glib repetitions.
Like “Curiosity Killed The Cat,” “You Are Not Your User” sounds so good that we keep on saying it, without appreciating what we’re reifying through repetition. The pleasure of repetition, the pleasure of pattern matching, the pleasingness of Kuh Kuh Kuh consonants on the one hand, and of the round vowelly Yuh Yuh Yuh on the other make these things we say seem true because they sound and feel so good to say.
The fire of oak logs which burned day and night for six months became the focal point of our family life.
...It is inevitable that the English word "home" cannot be translated directly into French. The nearest equivalent in French is the word foyer, the hearth.
The English language provides bad writers with a dangerous weapon called nominalization: making something into a noun.
Instead of affirming an idea, you effect its affirmation; rather than postponing something, you implement a postponement.
"Comprehension checks were used as exclusion criteria” would be better said as “we excluded people who failed to understand the instructions.”
“There is not any anticipation there will be a cancellation” would be better as “I don’t anticipate that I will have to cancel.”
Zombie sounds, unlike the verbs whose bodies they snatched, can shamble around without subjects. That is what they have in common with the passive constructions that also bog down these examples.
A key difference between verbal language and the modernist ideal of a visual “language” is the arbitrariness of a verbal sign, which has no natural, inherent relationship to the concept it represents. The sound of the word “horse”, for example, does not innately resemble the concept of a horse. Ferdinand de Saussure called this arbitrariness the fundamental feature of the verbal sign. The meaning of a sign is generated by its relationship to other signs in the language: the sign’s legibility lies in its difference from other signs.
Why are these phonosemantic classes enough, and we need neither more nor less? Why are these consonants enough, and we need neither more nor less? What determines the need for a new word? How is this demand ‘felt’ by a language? How did the metabolic pathways of American English recognize that ‘jerk’ and ‘twerp’ and ‘punk’ and ‘nitwit’ and ‘dork’ and ‘ass’ and ‘goon’ and ‘twit’ and ‘dodo’ and ‘bum’ and ‘nerd’ and ‘dunce’ and ‘turd’ and ‘boob’ and ‘chump’ and ‘bitch’ and ‘bastard’ and ‘prude’ and so on and so forth simply were not equal to the task? We had to add ‘turkey’ and ‘squirrel’ as well?
There is at this point no evidence that acquired characteristics can be inherited. It is held that all changes to a genome are random, and cannot be subject to any higher principle. However, when a word is used in a new context, as it is whenever we say something new, a new sense is permitted. This does affect the phonosemantic structure, the linguistic DNA. Words in the vicinity of this word ‘scoot over’ to make room and allow themselves to be influenced by its philosophy. The language itself is now different.
"You cannot make what you want to make, but what the material permits you to make. You cannot make out of marble what you would make out of wood, or out of wood what you would make out of stone. Each material has its own life, and one cannot without punishment destroy a living material to make a dumb senseless thing. That is, we must not try to make our materials speak our language, we must go with them to the point where others will understand their language."
— Constantin Brancusi
At times it helps to rephrase an observation in line with a perspective from the receiving end of technology. When my colleagues in the field of cold-water engineering speak of "ice-infested waters", I am tempted to think of "rig-infested oceans". Language is a fine barometer of values and priorities. As such it deserves careful attention.
Everything points to the conclusion that the phrase 'the language of art' is more than a loose metaphor, that even to describe the visible world in images we need a developed system of schemata.
The feeling of fortuitous gratitude at coming across unexpected information is something most of us who’ve done any research, have experienced — that kismet of finding the perfect book, one spine away from the one that was sought. In the field of art and image research, this sparking of transmission, of sequence and connection, happens on a subconscious level.
…Why is the vernacular image still being dismissed as ephemera? Why is its study not being prioritized? All languages are alive, but visual language is galactic. Keywords are not eyeballs, and creating rutted pathways to follow is the antithesis of study. A century of visual language, knowledge, and connectivity is marching toward a narrow, parsimonious basement of nomenclature. The NYPL takes a step backward if it models its shelves and research on a search engine. Spontaneity is learning. Browsing is research.
what I already am thinking about
is my gratitude for language—
how it will stretch just so much and no farther;
how there are some holes it will not cover up;
how it will move, if not inside, then
around the circumference of almost anything—
how, over the years, it has given me
back all the hours and days, all the
plodding love and faith, all the
misunderstandings and secrets
I have willingly poured into it.
- A Definition
Idiolect is an individual's unique use of language, including speech. This unique usage encompasses vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation.
An idiolect is the variety of language unique to an individual. This differs from a dialect, a common set of linguistic characteristics shared among a group of people.
In April 2021, a series of strange phrases in journal articles piqued the interest of a group of computer scientists. The researchers could not understand why researchers would use the terms ‘counterfeit consciousness’, ‘profound neural organization’ and ‘colossal information’ in place of the more widely recognized terms ‘artificial intelligence’, ‘deep neural network’ and ‘big data’.
Further investigation revealed that these strange terms — which they dub “tortured phrases” — are probably the result of automated translation or software that attempts to disguise plagiarism. And they seem to be rife in computer-science papers.
Christopher Johnson says “prescriptivists” or “Cute Curmudgeons” — people who are interested in only policing usage and grammar rules — are “linguistic poison sniffers.” They turn language into “a source of potential embarrassment rather than pleasure.”
Johnson sees his job as getting people to love and appreciate language by being curious about and paying attention to “what makes language delicious.”
This reminded of Olivia Laing’s distinction between identifying poison and finding nourishment.
Everywhere you look these days, there are lots of poison sniffers, but very few cooking a delicious meal…
In March 2021, I went through a fun self-imposed experiment: no emoji for 2 weeks. Not on social media, not in private messages, not even as Slack or Discord reactions. No emoticon either: the goal was to communicate without illustrations, only with words. I did a semi-rigorous (a.k.a. half-assed) diary study, taking notes on my feelings and behaviour.
- An Article
One of the major principles of extensive reading is that if a learner can comprehend material at 98% comprehension, she will acquire new words in context, in a painless, enjoyable way. But what is 98% comprehension?