Funny video: ‘Don’t You Just Love Working in an Office?’

Youtube videos are not all stunts/cute animals or else (near-)professional content. There are also simple, low-budget amateur videos that are well-written and well-performed, such as katinatreesee’s video “Don’t You Just Love Working in an Office?” She plays a slacker office-worker messing around with the phone and office supplies.

Link to video

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Video: ‘Language and Humor: First Show’

[my first live-action video]

This is the first show of “Language and Humor.” You’ll see that everything goes well until— Actually, you’ll see that it never starts going well.

Could I— Could I have a moment alone, please?

Link to video

Closed-captioning (CC) and transcript available.

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Resources for constructing alien languages

If you want to create a realistic science fiction/fantasy world, language helps a lot. Here are some conlang (constructed language) resources for creators and those interested.

How to write the next great alien language ( on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Elvish and Marc Okrand’s Klingon)

Linguist Marc Okrand on how he used less common sounds/grammatical forms to make Star Trek’s Klingon language more alien:

Link to video

More resources:

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Video: ‘Logo Teaser Trailer Parody’

[my first video]

While I was working on my blog layout recently, my site logo asked if he could have a little time off. I said OK.

Little did I know that he’d gotten a starring role in a movie.

Link to video

Closed-captioning is available. It’s actually a transcript, but it synchs up pretty well until the fast-talking end.

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Adding some style to your Internet words

Yahoo Style Guide

I just got the new The Yahoo! Style Guide: The Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing, and Creating Content for the Digital World (about half of which is online for free).

The first thing I wanted to check was the word usage section to see how things have changed since the most recent Microsoft style guide: Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications, Third Edition (2004). Below are some differences in the specific spelling of words (though Microsoft wouldn’t necessarily change these items in a future fourth edition of their guide).

Comparison of Internet Terms
Microsoft Manual of Style
The Yahoo! Style Guide
1 GB (use a space) 1GB (no space)

e-mail (in general, like mail)

an e-mail message (like a letter)

to send an e-mail message


an email/emails or an email message

to email

the Web

Web page, Web site

webmaster, webcam, webcast

the Web

webpage, website

webmaster, webcam, webcast

I always thought the Web site/webmaster spelling contrast was a silly inconsistency. I’m glad Yahoo agrees.

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The Force is strong in these GPS voices

[Obligatory Yoda inverted word order here insert you may.]

The folks at TomTom are selling Star Wars voices for their GPS devices and seemed to have enjoyed the making of behind-the-scenes videos of the recording sessions. The Yoda one has a bunch of funny things in it. The Darth Vader one starts out slow but gets better towards the middle (via The Nerdist and many other vias back to Carscoop).

“Yoda recording for TomTom GPS – behind the scenes”

Link to Yoda video

“Darth Vader recording for TomTom GPS – behind the scenes”

Link to Darth Vader video

As a Dutch company, TomTom is a good choice for at least the Darth Vader voicings, as vader is (I think not coincidentally) the Dutch word for “father.” Any Dutch people out there who predate the prequel trilogy and didn’t get to be surprised by the “I am your father” reveal in The Empire Strikes Back? Now you know the power of the Dark Side. As far as I know, darth is not the Dutch word for “asthmatic” (which is apparently astmatisch, among others).

“Star Wars” is still “Star Wars” in the Netherlands but would translate to the cognate Sterrenoorlogen (ster “star” in the combining form sterren and the plural oorlogen of oorlog “war”).

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Wordnik Smartwords: E-books just got schooled

If you’re reading books as E-books on E-readers or iPads, chances are you’d like to exploit the new platform by making reading more interactive. E-readers already have built-in dictionaries, but now the Smartwords open standard from the Wordnik online dictionary (and all-around word information source) will make words “smarter.”

Wordnik logo

In the following video from The Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference in June 2010, lexicographer and Wordnik CEO Erin McKean demonstrates how Smartwords allows someone to get lengthy definitions for technical terms, buy books on searched concepts, and get quizzed on words for the college entrance exam (hat tip to VentureBeat).

Link to video

The video below from O’Reilly’s TOC Conference (Tools of Change for Publishing Conference) in February 2010 is disappointingly vague, but the main point is that the Smartwords platform lets you learn (about words):

  • where they are and
  • where they came from
  • when they are
  • how they relate to other words
  • who created them and
  • who they’re with now

I take this to mean the contexts, connotations, collocations (words that co-occur), and other connections among words. I would dub this “Word Con 4,” but one is a col- and it might also sound like a word conference or a lexical DEFense CONdition for shooting language-maven missiles (after eating and before leaving) at people who misuse too many words.

Link to video

These are exciting times for how we access words and information. Once we reach the immersive hologram phase I suppose tagged words will have avatars to come by and explain themselves to us. “Wrestling with” a new concept could cause injuries without proper safety protocols, and “wrapping your head around” an idea might make for an unflattering online video of you.

Side note:

Erin McKean (her Twitter) uses delightful analogies. Below are two talks she has given about dictionaries.

2007 TED Talk on redefining the dictionary

Link to video

2007 talk at Google on what one should know about dictionaries (almost 55 minutes)

Link to video

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Blog back

You might notice a bit of a gap in blog posts (if a mere two years even qualifies as “a bit of a gap”). Aside from my being busy for a while, the gap is due to the WordPress blogging platform breaking two-and-a-half years ago (as I noted in Blog: Software upgrade, non-Latin characters lost).

WordPress changed the way it handled non-Latin characters, such as the Chinese and Japanese characters in many of my posts. The characters all turned to gobbledygook, and trying to replace them (or to write new posts with foreign characters) just gave question marks.

I tried some fixes. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling the blogging software a couple times. I tried competitors’ platforms (which did work but were unsatisfactory in other ways). Finally, I came back to WordPress to see if later versions worked. I was happy to see that foreign characters do now work.

Thus began the tedious process of re-uploading each blog post to re-input foreign characters and to fix all the dead links, as news sites seem to enjoy changing their article URLs and removing their content. Another new WordPress feature is the ability to embed videos in blog posts, so I went back and did that as well instead of just using links to videos.

I know I won’t be blogging every day, but it’ll definitely be more than every two years.

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Buffy (and SNL) ‘much’ much?: Slang research with, Part 2

[EDIT (6/7/10): I broke this long post up into two posts.]

This is Part 2 (Part 1) on finding early uses of American slang and colloquialisms from the television clips and episodes on Hulu‘s (language corpus of) shows from NBC Universal (NBC, USA Network, Bravo, Sci Fi, Sundance Channel, Oxygen) and News Corp. (Fox, FX, Fuel TV).

While searching in vain for the Steve Martin “NOT!” clip on Hulu for the Part 1 post, I found another “The Nerds” sketch from Saturday Night Live and stumbled on an old usage of yet another expression. This time it was post-adjective much? (e.g. “Awkward much?” for “You’re very awkward”).

I first noticed post-adjective much? in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer pilot, (“Welcome to the Hellmouth,” Season 1, Episode 1; first aired March 10, 1997). Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) informs Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) that there has been a mysterious death at their high school. Buffy wants to find out if it was the work of a vampire without blowing her secret identity:

BUFFY: How did he die?

CORDELIA: I don’t know.

BUFFY: Well, were there any marks?

CORDELIA: Morbid much? I didn’t ask!

(Welcome to the Hellmouth, 15:37-15:43, [EDIT (6/7/10): no longer available])

The construction not surprisingly predates the show, but I was surprised to find it two decades earlier.

On SNL’s October 7, 1978, episode (Season 4, Episode 1), with The Rolling Stones as host, the teen nerds Lisa Loopner (Gilda Radner; William Safire (1992) spelled it “Lupner” in On Language; Not! New York Times Magazine. March 8, 1992, 20.) and Todd (Bill Murray) are hanging out in Lisa’s kitchen:

TODD: I really need your help with my history homework.

LISA: Well, Todd, you know if you sincerely need my help, you can count on it.

TODD: Oh, good. Because I’m studying all about [grabs at Lisa’s shirt neck and tries to peek down her shirt] underdeveloped nations!

LISA (shouting and smiling): Cut it out, Todd! Cut it out! [lightly swats him away] Stop it!

TODD (points at Lisa’s chest and mock laughs to a pretend audience): Underdeveloped much?

(Nerds Broken Fridge, 02:37-02:55)

The bit is quite crass, of course, but there’s the post-adjective much? construction way back in 1978.

As if I couldn’t waste enough time watching comedy and other clips and episodes on Hulu, now I shudder to realize that there’s a corpus linguistics use as well. NOT! No, there truly is.

See also:
Gateway to Corpus Linguistics (English, Spanish, and Portuguese online corpora)

Slayer Slang: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Lexicon by Michael Adams (2004, Oxford University Press, ISBN13: 9780195175998)

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SNL NOT!: Slang research with, Part 1

Having trouble finding early uses of slang and colloquialisms? If you’re looking for instances of American (and possibly Canadian) ones, the television clips and episodes on Hulu from NBC Universal (NBC, USA Network, Bravo, Sci Fi, Sundance Channel, Oxygen) and News Corp. (Fox, FX, Fuel TV) are a useful language corpus.

I was sent an old clip of Saturday Night Live (SNL). The clip happened to contain a “Wayne’s World”-esque “NOT!” (e.g., “That sounds like fun—NOT!” for “That does not sound like fun”), but it’s thirteen years earlier.

I learned the post-clause NOT! expression from the “Wayne’s World” segments on SNL in early 1990. The sketches began at the beginning of the fifteenth season in Fall 1989, but I don’t think the post-clause NOT! appeared until the Tom Hanks-hosted February 17, 1990, episode (Season 15, Episode 13, video clip embedded below).

Tom Hanks plays Garth’s (Dana Carvey) cousin Barry, a roadie for Aerosmith. Barry has brought Aerosmith to appear on Wayne’s World, Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth’s community-access cable show. After Barry demonstrates his roadie duties, comes:

WAYNE: Anyways, Barry, uh, that was really interesting. [mugging to camera] NOT!

(Waynes [sic] World with Aerosmith, 04:39-04:43)

With the movie Wayne’s World in 1992, the expression became even more popular. It even made the American Dialect Society’s 1992 Word of the Year. According to Sheidlower and Lighter (1993), however, the usage of post-clause NOT! is older than that:

The publicists for the movie Wayne’s World claim the construction was coined in the late 1970s by Steve Martin and Gilda Radner in “The Nerds,” an ongoing sketch on Saturday Night Live:

That’s a fabulous science fair project. . . . Not!

(Jesse T. Sheidlower and Jonathan E. Lighter (1993). A Recent Coinage (Not!). American Speech, 68(2) (Summer, 1993), 213-218 [first page].)

For the SNL quote, Sheidlower and Lighter cite a 1992 “On Language” column by William Safire. Safire calls it “belated negation” and gives the sketch as 1978.

(William Safire (1992). On Language; Not! New York Times Magazine. March 8, 1992, 20.)

That would be the April 22, 1978, episode (Season 3, Episode 18), with Steve Martin as host. That sketch doesn’t seem to be on Hulu. At any rate, at least my discovery is still a little older. The usage I stumbled on is from two years earlier.

In the very first season of SNL, the May 8, 1976, episode (Season 1, Episode 19) has Madeline Kahn as host. The show has a slumber party sketch about what a group of young girls think sex is:

MADELINE KAHN: That is why you should only do it after you are married. Because then you won’t be so embarrassed in front of your husband because you will [would?] be in the same family.

LARAINE NEWMAN (sarcastically, with only a slight pause): Oh, well. Now I really want to get married. Not!

(Slumber Party, 02:46-03:00.)

I can’t get too excited about this either, however. It turns out, according to Mark Israel (Postfix “not”), the construction is a lot older and goes back at least to 1905 with Ellis Parker Butler’s Irish English poem Pigs is Pigs (“. . . ‘Cert’nly, me dear frind Flannery. Delighted!’ Not!”).

Part 2:
Buffy (and SNL) ‘much’ much?: Slang research with, Part 2

See also:
Gateway to Corpus Linguistics (English, Spanish, and Portuguese online corpora)

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