When Your Punctuation Says It All (!) – NYTimes.com

When Your Punctuation Says It All (!) – NYTimes.com.

He didn’t just use the lazy singular dash (“-”) as a pause between his thoughts, or even the more time-consuming double-dash (“–”). Nope. This man used a proper em dash.

That is, the kind that required him to hold down the dash button on his iPhone for that extra second, until the “—” appeared, then choose it from among three options. I don’t remember what his messages actually said. But he obviously really liked me.

I’m a writer; it’s natural I’d have a thing for grammar. But these days, it’s as if our punctuation is on steroids.

Newspeak (programming language) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

via Newspeak (programming language) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Newspeak is a programming language and platform in the tradition of Smalltalk and Self being developed by a team led by Gilad Bracha. The platform includes an IDE, a GUI library, and standard libraries.[1] Starting in 2006, Cadence Design Systems funded its development and employed the main contributors, but ceased funding in January 2009.[2]

Newspeak is a class based language. Classes may be nested, as in BETA. This is one of the key differences between Newspeak and Smalltalk. All names in Newspeak are late-bound, and are interpreted as message sends, as in Self.

Newspeak is distinguished by its unusual approach to modularity.[3] The language has no global namespace. Top level classes act as module declarations. Module declarations are first class values (i.e., they may be stored in variables, passed as parameters, returned from methods, etc.) and are stateless.

Newspeak – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

via Newspeak – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Newspeak is the fictional language in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, written by George Orwell. It is a controlled language created by the totalitarianstate as a tool to limit freedom of thought, and concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self-expression, individualitypeace, etc. Any form of thought alternative to the party’s construct is classified as “thoughtcrime.”

Newspeak is explained in chapters 4 and 5 of Nineteen Eighty-Four, and in an appendix to the book. The language follows, for the most part, the samegrammatical rules as English, but has a much more limiting, and constantly shifting vocabulary. Any synonyms or antonyms, along with undesirable concepts are eradicated. The goal is for everyone to be speaking this language by the year 2050 (the story is set in the year 1984—hence the title). In the mean time, Oldspeak (current English) is still spoken among the Proles — the working-class citizens of Oceania.

Orwell was inspired to invent Newspeak by the constructed language Basic English, which he promoted from 1942 to 1944 before emphatically rejecting it in his essay “Politics and the English Language“.[1] In this paper he deplores the bad English of his day, citing dying metaphors, pretentious diction or rhetoric, and meaningless words, which he saw as encouraging unclear thought and reasoning. Towards the end of the essay, Orwell states: “I said earlier that the decadence of our language is probably curable. Those who deny this would argue, if they produced an argument at all, that language merely reflects existing social conditions, and that we cannot influence its development by any direct tinkering with words or constructions.”

Newspeak’s contracted forms, such as Ingsoc and Minitrue, are inspired by the Russian syllabic abbreviations used for concepts relating to the government and society of the USSR, such as politburoCominternkolkhoz (collective farm) and Komsomol (Young Communists’ League), many of which found their way into the speech of Communists in other countries.

Doublethink – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

via Doublethink – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Doublethink is the act of ordinary people simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct, often in distinct social contexts.[1]Doublethink is related to, but differs from, hypocrisy and neutrality. Somewhat related but almost the opposite is cognitive dissonance, where contradictory beliefs cause conflict in one’s mind. Doublethink is notable due to a lack of cognitive dissonance — thus the person is completely unaware of any conflict or contradiction.

George Orwell coined the word doublethink in his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984); doublethink is part of newspeak. In the novel, its origin within the typical citizen is unclear; while it could be partly a product of Big Brother‘s formal brainwashing programs,[2] the novel explicitly shows people learning Doublethink and newspeak due to peer pressure and a desire to “fit in”, or gain status within the Party — to be seen as a loyal Party Member. In the novel, for someone to even recognize–let alone mention–any contradiction within the context of the Party line was akin to blasphemy, and could subject that someone to possible disciplinary action and to the instant social disapproval of fellow Party Members.

Snow Crash – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Snow Crash – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Snow Crash is Neal Stephenson‘s third novel, published in 1992. Like many of Stephenson’s other novels it covers historylinguisticsanthropologyarchaeology,religioncomputer sciencepoliticscryptographymemetics, and philosophy.

Stephenson explained the title of the novel in his 1999 essay In the Beginning… was the Command Line as his term for a particular software failure mode on the early Apple Macintosh computer. Stephenson wrote about the Macintosh that “When the computer crashed and wrote gibberish into the bitmap, the result was something that looked vaguely like static on a broken television set—a ‘snow crash’ ”.

The book presents the Sumerian language as the firmware programming language for the brainstem, which is supposedly functioning as the BIOS for the human brain. According to characters in the book, the goddess Asherah is the personification of a linguistic virus, similar to a computer virus. The god Enki created a counter-program which he called a nam-shub that caused all of humanity to speak different languages as a protection against Asherah (a re-interpretation of the ancient Near Eastern story of the Tower of Babel).

“Twitter” Has Changed a Lot Since the 1700s

via “Twitter” Has Changed a Lot Since the 1700s.

Nowadays, we use words like “twitter” all the time to talk about our everyday social meda-ing. In the 1800s, they said “twitter” too, but it meant something a little different. So did “pin.” The times, they have a-changed.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, which tracks trends like this over time, “twitter” wasn’t quite the same word it is today, but the relation is pretty obvious.

-One who twits; dial. a tale-bearer.
1854: “Don’t tell him anything, he’s a twitter.”

-A condition of twittering or tremulous excitement (from eager desire, fear, etc.); a state of agitation; a flutter, a tremble. Now chiefly dial.
1869: “[She] was in a twitter, partly of expectation, and partly..of fear.”

-A suppressed laugh, a titter; a fit of laughter. dial.
1736: “He is in a mighty twitter.”

-An act or the action of twittering, as a bird; light tremulous chirping. Also transf. a sound resembling this.
1871: “A mere swallow-twitter of inarticulate jargon.”

“Pin” on the other hand, as explained by John Camden Hotten’s 1874 The Slang Dictionary, meant something completely different. At least as slang.

“to put in the pin,” to refrain from drinking. From the ancient peg tankard, which was furnished with a row of pins, or pegs, to regulate the amount which each person was to drink. Drunken people are often requested to “put in the pin,” from some remote connexion between their unsteadiness and that of a carriage wheel which has lost its linch-pin. The popular cry, “put in the pin,” can have no connexion with the drinking pin or peg now, whatever it may originally have had. A merry pin, a roysterer

Of course, plenty of other words have changed as well, with many just picking up verb functionality, like “friend” and “favorite.” Still others, like “search,” mean the same basic thing, in a completely different context. Who knows what words might get bastardized by social media next, but with any luck someday you’ll be able regale your grandchildren with tales of when “sexts” were something exciting. [h/t Boing Boing]

A Shimmering, Tweet-Based Langauge Map of NYC

via A Shimmering, Tweet-Based Langauge Map of NYC.

If you’ve ever wondered which languages are spoken where in NYC, here’s the map for you. This visualization shows exactly which languages are used in tweets across the city.

Put together by James Cheshire, Ed Manley and Oliver O’Brien from University College London,the map builds on 8.5 million tweets, captured between January 2010 and February 2013, which were all analyzed for language content. As you’d expect, it’s quite the melting pot, and the highest concentration of different languages seems to be around the Theatre District and Times Square. Best put that down to tourists, eh? Check out the full, interactive map here.[UCL viaGuardian]