x1101 x1101@identi.ca

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  • Super Ginormous Language Problems

    Bradley M. Kuhn at 2014-11-27T14:42:03Z

    @Richard Fontana has occasionally accused me linguistic prescriptivism. I don't really apologize for it. Educated people should think about the language they're using and its value and precision.

    I am generally delighted with how English evolved in the 19th and 20th centuries. English speakers' willingness to accept loan words and otherwise add vocabulary with deep nuance is likely unmatched by any other language during that period. Notwithstanding the USA's cultural imperialism, I suspect English's easy accommodation of domain-specific languages and descriptive power has been a factor in its popularity.

    Classically, Free Software advocates lament English's gaps, such as the ambiguity of the adjective "free". I've never understood a reason, other than prescriptivism, that we've refused to just started using freedom as an adjective, of other such terminology.

    I considered in this context two recent (they're probably about a decade old now, but that's short-term in language evolution standards) usage issues that have propagated, yet are useless.

    One is the use of "super" as adverb. AFAICT, it's a just a synonym for "very", which I always thought was an almost useless adverb anyway. (i.e, if you find yourself needing an adverb of degree that merely gives you "more" of the adjective of adverb you already used, there's probably a better adjective or adverb you could use.) I suppose "super" was ostensibly supposed to communicate a nuance beyond "very", but I don't think it actually does at this point: I mostly hear speakers using "super" instead of "very". Is there any nuance there at all?

    "Ginormous" seems similarly useless. Similarly, ginormous ostensibly should indicate something much larger than gigantic or enormous. However, the word has just decreased the nuance available between the two words and superseded it with a new word that means roughly the same thing as either of the previous ones.

    But, based on this portmanteau's popularity, I suppose I should simply be proposing "sofree" as a new adjective to mean "adjective that modifies the noun to indicated that the noun has the quality or permissions associated with software freedom"? If it became popular, wouldn't that be a super gianmorous language coup for software freedom?

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    Ginormously supergreen!

    Lars Wirzenius at 2014-11-27T16:22:50Z

    I'm super-duper chillaxed about my linguistical pseudo-words, verbifying nouns and the nounification of adjectives.

    Efraim Flashner at 2014-11-27T17:11:05Z

    Charles Stanhope likes this.

    sofree sounds like Portuguese for “I suffered”; soffree, OTOH, sounds like “s/he suffers” :-(  /me fears the cleftocracy argument against copyleft :-)

    Alexandre Oliva at 2014-11-28T17:11:56Z

    The two usages you reference are older than a decade. With a minute or so of searching I found plausible examples of adverbial "super" (I think the same as what you're talking about) from the 1930s and 1940s.

    "Ginormous" is certainly more recent, but a quick search found some examples from the late 1980s, and here's evidence of a usage from 1960:
    https://books.google.com/books?id=4eECAAAAMAAJ&q=ginormous&dq=ginormous&hl=en&sa=X&ei=B--gVPDzM4HBgw...

    Ginormous is reminiscent of the likely somewhat older "humongous" (a similar portmanteau-ish formation). It was in fairly wide use when I was a child. I gather that proprietary relicensing company MongoDB (fka 10gen) claims that the "Mongo" in "MongoDB" is a shortening of "humongous", apparently in reaction to complaints that "mong(o)" is or was a derogatory term for a person with Down Syndrome (trisomy 21) in some varieties of English.

    Richard Fontana at 2014-12-29T06:11:23Z

  • Becky Newborough at 2011-07-14T19:51:37+00:00

    T minus 10 minutes until Torchwood!

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  • bassburner at 2011-06-23T18:22:48+00:00

    @fendus I never did quite get the hang of Thursdays.

    x1101 likes this.

    ♺ @bassburner: @fendus I never did quite get the hang of Thursdays.

    x1101 at 2011-06-23T18:27:31+00:00

  • Morten Juhl-Johansen Zölde-Fejér at 2011-06-08T14:00:55+00:00

    !Listening to the !audiobook Somebody Somewhere... Or rather, trying to. The levels are so low I can't hear anything when outside.

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  • x1101 at 2011-02-16T16:21:43+00:00

    @gomerx If it is, its not well labeled/marketed. I never go to B&N, but I know of the nook. I am in Borders all the time, and have no clue.

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  • Lame Jokes at 2009-12-28T16:00:08+00:00

    "He said 'I'm going to chop off the bottom of one of your trouser legs and put it in a library.' I thought 'That's a turn-up for the books."

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