A linguistic win for W: or, "What 'I' Means"

This NYT article reports on a paper published in The Journal of Research in Personality in which Richard Slatcher analyzes Kerry's and W's political speech, determining that W's speech "was most like that of an older person, because, as people do when they age, he used fewer first-person singular words, more positive-emotion words, and had "a greater focus on the future...". Kerry's speech on the other hand was more like that of a depressed person, "because of his high use of first-person singular words, physical words like "ache" and negative-emotion words like "hate," along with low use of positive-emotion words, like "happy."

Interesting the relation between first person singular words and depression. It seems intuitive though at some level. The rest isn't so surprising. What is fun though is that W finally wins one in language, especially so given the drubbing he's taken since day 1 for his creative/special use of morphology and syntax.

FYI if you need a password to access the NYT article, please consult http://bugmenot.com/


Famous Plagiarists

For the forensically minded reader, this site's got it all. From Osama bin Laden to Martin Luther King to Vladimir Putin. Check out the famous plagiarists....


Diabolus fecit, ut id facerem!

It must be the end of the semester's fault -- or perhaps I have still not recovered from the long, cold, wet New Haven winter that only just now seems to have ended -- or perhaps it is due to my frustration over Texas's new sin tax on cigarettes. Whatever the cause, I find that my two favorite fun Latin phrases on this page either implicate violence: Fac ut gaudeam or overtly threaten it: Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabris, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam. I'll check back in after a few more weeks of sunshine to see if my Latin preference has lightened any.


Coin a word, win $240 of music

Just a quick note to note a fun contest for any neologisers who might be reading. Valleywag is offering $240 worth of iTunes tunes for the best Valleyspeak neologism: Valleyspeak Contest.

I can't think of any good Valley neologisms at the moment. One thing though I heard recently which is kind of interesting is the polite version of hella, which is hecka. (from NoCal rather than the Valley, but close enough.)

I wasn't aware that hella could actually be considered offensive, but apparently it is and so from hell/heck we get hella/hecka. Here are some examples from Urbandictionary. It seems to enjoy a quite diverse syntactic distribution.

wow, i'm hecka hungry...
This hecka sucks monkey butt
instead of saying im hungry as hell, you would say im hecka hungry
Yes, Mr. Ambassador, I concur that we are hecka screwed in Iraq
It was hecka people at the concert
I hecka want hecka money.


Merriam-Webster's Words of the Year 2005

Merriam-Webster online announces its top ten most searched for words of 2005. The winner, MW's most searched for word is INTEGRITY. Integrity? I'm not even sure what to say about this. I guess I'm glad people are looking up words, but, integrity? The rest of the top ten are just as bland: 2. refugee 3. contempt 4. filibuster 5. insipid 6. tsunami 7. pandemic 8. conclave 9. levee 10. inept. I almost feel like MW's whole list is a put-on to try and foist some kind of moral awareness or conscience. (As I adjust my tin hat...) Maybe the list actually does represent the top ten most searched for words at MW and people just go elsewhere, like Urban Dictionary, for their lexicographic spice, where you can search for words like ghettoguistics, semanatics, or find help with your morphology or phonology homework. For instance, the suffix -ish, does not really form an adjective from a noun base, it actually is a mish-mash byproduct of censoring obscene words on rap or rock and roll songs:
1. Slang term often used to replace shit. Derived from the process of editing the vocals of rap-songs by reversing the curse words so said song could be played on radio or television, as in 'That's the dope ish'.


A really bad joke...

This really bad joke has eggcorn relevance, but I'm not sure how.

Mahatma Gandhi was a peculiar person. He walked barefoot everywhere, to the point that his feet became quite thick and hard. He often went on hunger strikes, and even when he wasn't on a hunger strike, he did not eat much and became quite thin and frail. He also was a very spiritual person. Finally, because he didn't eat much and when he did his diet was peculiar, he developed very bad breath. He became known as a:

super-calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.


Vegans? No. Freegans

NEW YORK (AP) - Dinner shared by a group of friends at a well-appointed Greenwich Village apartment featured eggplant Parmesan with a salad of mixed greens and avocado dressing. The guests already had snacked on hors d'oeuvres of smoked mozzarella and crackers. Not bad considering the diners find their food by digging through garbage. They call themselves ``freegans,'' a play on the words ``vegan''- vegetarians who avoid all animal products, including dairy - and ``free.'' In an ideological rejection of consumer waste, they only eat food that's been discarded.

At seemingly every Yale Linguistics dinner there is a discussion of the differing kinds of vegetarians as well as what they call themselves. "Freegan" is a new one to me. More about freeganism can be found here. While it does raise an interesting philosophical question, I will probably not suggest it for any Linguistics dinners in the near future.