Word about Words


“Words signify man’s refusal to accept the world as it is.”


Walter Kaufmann


I Can Has Language

This is an interesting presentation given at the University of Melbourne about the linguistic structure and validity of LOLspeak (i.e. “I can has cheezburger”). It’s about 20 minutes long, and is based on an academic paper, which probably seems kinda dull, but it makes some good points about how LOLspeak is community-driven, collaborative and creative (as language always is).

It gives an idea of how the media and memes of the internet have become more fully developed over the last few years, and how they are easily understood by savvy participants in internet culture. I thought it was definitely relevant to the topic of this blog, and kind of an interesting thing to watch if, you know, you’ve ever wondered about the LOLcat Bible…

(via The Daily What)

Bah! Humbug!

via Project Gutenberg

The dreary, sad existence of Ebenezer Scrooge that Charles Dickens paints in A Christmas Carol might not seem a fount of memorable images and phrases, but the references found in its pages are not limited strictly to the holiday season. (For example, when we call someone a “Scrooge” it’s synonymous for calling them a grouchy miser, regardless of the time of year.)

The characters and plot of the classic novel have become so ubiquitous that adaptations, especially during this time of year, are a dime a dozen. There are relatively faithful adaptations — from the likes of Mr. Magoo, The Muppets, and Jim Carrey — as well as departures such as Scrooged or even, some could argue, It’s a Wonderful Life.

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The King of the Catchphrase

“Good riddance.”

“Love is blind.”

“Heart of hearts.”

“Laughing stock.”

“Green eyed monster.”

“Break the ice.”

via Wikipedia

What in the world do any of these phrases have to do with the others? Well, if you’re familiar with the tales of Romeo and Juliet, Prince Hamlet, King Lear or Julius Caesar, you can probably guess.

All of these phrases, and many, many more, that are common in our everyday use are attributed to perhaps the most influential figure in the English language. That’s right, The Bard, William Shakespeare.

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Slogan savvy

via coolestthings.wordpress.com

When we think of media, we probably are generally thinking of the obvious media types like television shows, movies or magazines. But we might overlook one type of media that seeps into pretty much everything we do: advertising. I’d venture to say that advertising — and product or company slogans specifically — are just as much a part of our cultural consciousness as any other type of media.

Companies spend huge amounts of money and time on finding just the right set of words that represent their product in a clever, catchy way, so that their slogan will pop into our heads at just the right moment.

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Halloween Edition

via Wikipedia

One of the highlights of my college career is that once I was able to quote a Saturday Night Live sketch in an academic paper. (It was the “Firelight” sketch, specifically, but darn WordPress won’t let me embed Hulu videos.)

The paper itself was about the way, over the last two hundred years, our culture has “dumbed down” the story and lesson of Frankenstein. This seems pretty relevant to the blog, so I thought I’d talk a bit about how the reverse of media-changing-language is sometimes true. The novel Frankenstein deals with some pretty weighty stuff — science vs. nature, unchecked ambition, revenge, isolation, the pros and cons of living in Switzerland — you know, serious matters. But, you wouldn’t know that based on the way we throw around the word “Frankenstein” in common conversation.

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Curiouser and curiouser

via alice-in-wonderland.net

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is something of an reference-generating machine. This piece of children’s literature and its sequel, Through the Looking Glass have been alluded to more often than can probably be accounted for in the hundred and fifty-odd years since its initial publication.

The story has been retold on film as Alice in Wonderland (with varying levels of faithfulness to the original novel) numerous times (including a great, recently restored version from 1903) and has also been alluded to in adaptations and has influenced television and music as well.

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