To make sense of President Donald Trump's first year in the White House, many have come to rely on Maggie Haberman. The powerhouse reporter for the New York Times talks with Atlantic editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg about how her career covering New York City politics for the tabloids has given her a unique view of Trump. To Haberman, Trump's brashness and need for approval are partly products of his distinct experience of New York City.
A fascinating interview to be sure. There’s some subtlety particularly about Donald Trump that is injected here that I wouldn’t have thought about previously. I certainly don’t have more hope as a result, but I do have a lot more nuance in how he functions and interacts with others. There is some particularly fascinating discussion on language/linguistics which impinges on some of the discussion in my article Complexity isn’t a Vice: 10 Word Answers and Doubletalk in Election 2016.
How do nonsensical counting-out rhymes like these enter the lexicon?
I’d read this a year or two ago for a specific purpose and revisited it again today just for entertainment. There’s some interesting history hiding in this sort of exercise.
I also considered these rhymes as simple counting games, but the’re not really used to count up as if they were ordinals. Most people couldn’t even come close to saying how many things they’d have counted if they sang such a song. I also find that while watching children sing these while “counting” they typically do so with a choice for each syllable, but this often fails in the very young so that they can make their own “mental” choice known while still making things seem random. For older kids, with a little forethought and some basic division one can make something seemingly random and turn it into a specific choice as well.
So what are these really and what purpose did they originally serve?
Algorithmic decipherment is a prime example of a truly unsupervised problem. The first step in the decipherment process is the identification of the encrypted language. We propose three methods for determining the source language of a document enciphered with a monoalphabetic substitution cipher. The best method achieves 97% accuracy on 380 languages. We then present an approach to decoding anagrammed substitution ciphers, in which the letters within words have been arbitrarily transposed. It obtains the average decryption word accuracy of 93% on a set of 50 ciphertexts in 5 languages. Finally, we report the results on the Voynich manuscript, an unsolved fifteenth century cipher, which suggest Hebrew as the language of the document.
Aside: It’s been ages since I’ve seen someone with Refbacks listed on their site!
While looking at the MLA Commons platform, I decided that I ought to join the MLA as a member.
Artificial intelligence has allowed scientists to make significant progress in cracking a mysterious ancient text, the meaning of which has eluded scholars for centuries.
Interesting news if it’s really true! Though I do feel a bit sad as there are some methods I had wanted to try on this longstanding puzzle, but never had the time to play with.
Syndicated copies to:
sub·men·tion (noun informal): 1. A post about someone or something on a personal website where one neglects (accidentally or on purpose) to either send a webmention and/or syndicate a copy out to an appropriate social silo. 2. Such a post which explicitly has the experimental microformat rel=”nomention” which prevents webmention code from triggering for the attached URL. 3. Any technologically evolved form of apophasis (Greek ἀπόφασις from ἀπόφημι apophemi, “to say no”) which sends no notifications using standard Internet or other digital protocols.
Early 21st century: a blend or portmanteau of subliminal and webmention.
Pinker talking about his then new book, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature, and doing what he does best: combining psychology and neuroscience with linguistics. The result is as entertaining as it is insightful.
“The three volumes of Green’s Dictionary of Slang demonstrate the sheer scope of a lifetime of research by Jonathon Green, the leading slang lexicographer of our time. A remarkable collection of this often reviled but endlessly fascinating area of the English language, it covers slang from the past five centuries right up to the present day, from all the different English-speaking countries and regions. Totaling 10.3 million words and over 53,000 entries, the collection provides the definitions of 100,000 words and over 413,000 citations. Every word and phrase is authenticated by genuine and fully-referenced citations of its use, giving the work a level of authority and scholarship unmatched by any other publication in this field.”
Now comes the good news. In October, Green’s Dictionary of Slangbecame available as a free website, giving you access to an even more updated version of the dictionary. Collectively, the website lets you trace the development of slang over the past 500 years. And, as Mental Floss notes, the site “allows lookups of word definitions and etymologies for free, and, for a well-worth-it subscription fee, it offers citations and more extensive search options.” If you’ve ever wondered about the meaning of words like kidlywink, gollier, and linthead, you now know where to begin.
You probably don’t realise – we all talk the language of falconry!
Having such a long and rich history around the world, the practice of falconry has developed an extensive vocabulary to describe it. Over time many of these words and phrases have become part of everyday life without many of us realising the original meaning behind the term.
“I’m just so fed up with all this work.”
The term to be ‘fed up’ comes from the falconry term for when a trained hawk has eaten its fill. When a bird is ‘fed up’ it is unwilling to fly and hunt for the falconer. Hence today, to be ‘fed up’ means you are no longer interested in doing something.
“That guy is so under her thumb!”
To be under the thumb, comes from the action of a falconer holding the leash of the hawk under their thumb to maintain a tight control of the bird. Today the term under the thumb is generally used in a derogatory manner to describe a partners overbearing control over the other partners actions.
“Ha ha – he’s been hoodwinked!”
Falconers use a leather ‘hood’ to cover a hawks eyes and keep them calm. Hence the term hoodwinked came about to describe somebody being fooled or tricked into doing something.
“Noel has been working too hard – he’s looking a bit haggard!”
A haggard falcon was traditionally a bird that was caught from the wild while on migration. Typically a bird caught at this time would be thin and tired from its journey. Hence the term for somebody looking ‘haggard’ means that they look a bit rough around the edges, a bit worn out.
“She’s been waiting with bated breath all day”
Falcons, when they want to fly, bate from the block, meaning they try to fly but are held short of leaving the area around their perch by their leash. When doing this they can become short of breath – and hence are waiting for the falconer to come to release them from their tether with ‘bated breath’. The term “at the end of my tether” similarly comes from the action of a falcon, particularly an un-trained young falcon, bating from the perch and being held up by their tether – hence they are at the end of their tether i.e. extremely frustrated.
“Ok, I will cadge a lift off Tom.”
A cadge was what falconers called a portable perch. Falcons were carried to the hunting grounds on a cadge. Thus the term to ‘cadge a lift’ came about, meaning to get a free lift. Phrases based on the words cadge don’t end there. ‘Codger’ is a derivative of the word ‘cadger’. Cadgers were usually old falconers (who carried the falcons on the cadge) hence today the term has come to be used to refer to an elderly person, as in the affectionate term – ‘the old codger’. Interestingly, a caddy today is somebody who carries golf clubs for somebody – and normally the person carrying the clubs is considerably younger than the person playing the game!
“I’m off down the boozer.”
When raptors drink, it is called bowsing. A bird that drinks heavily is called a boozer. The same term is used to describe the same tendency in humans – hence a ‘boozer’ is someone who drinks a lot and the ‘boozer’ is where people that drink beer like to go for a drink (or two).