24/02/2016

Notable words, Q1 2016


  • nomothetic (adj.): "law-stating"; the mindset that prizes categorisation, hypothetical deduction and universalisation above all. E.g. science (and, of course, of conspiracy theorists like Carl Jung). A pejorative, to anthropologists. One of the more important totally obscure words I know, along with "apodicticity" and "pareidolia". And "philosophunculist".

  • spaghettification (n.): Genuine technical term for what happens to you in a destructively steep gravity gradient: if the difference in field strength between your front and your back is greater than your tensile strength.

  • value proposition (Corporatese n.): why to buy my shit. The lie, in short.

  • tankie (n.): A modern day Leninist or Stalinist. Term originated for those who thought sending tanks to crush the Prague Spring was perfectly right for the greater good of Communist unity.

  • tortfeasor (n.): Someone who has done a tort.

  • abugida (n.): A script of the consonant-vowel pairs in a given language; a vocal 'alphabet'. From ab, bu, gi, da the first four units in the syllabary of the Ge'ez language.

  • hypernym (n.): A more general term which contains the entity at hand as well as other entities which share a given property. A hypernym of 'apple' is 'fruit'; of 'fruit', 'reproductive organ'; of 'reproductive organ', 'organ'; of 'organ', 'biological system'; of 'biological system', 'system'; of 'system', 'set'; of 'set', 'abstract object'; of 'abstract object', 'object'; of 'object', nothing.

  • misfeature (n.): A bad idea which you added anyway. Word doesn't refer to the quality of the implementation (a buggy feature) nor to unintentional odd behaviour (a bug or "undocumented feature").

  • effortpost (Web 3.0 n.): web content with a lot of original words, not just a reblog or link. (In less intellectually impoverished times this was called an "essay".)

  • pinctadan (adj.): Like a pearl oyster.

  • smoko (Oceanian n.): A smoke break.

  • venereal (adj.) as it relates to martial (adj.): These of course! derive from Venus and Mars.

  • malky (SW Scots n., v.): 1. Diminutive of 'Malcolm'; 2. Razor used as a weapon. 3. Severe beating ("Yoor gittin a dose of the malkies"). 4. To beat severely; to murder ("Yoor gittin malkied").

  • צדיק , tzaddik (Hebrew n.): Righteous one. Holier than a mensch, lesser than a tamim or gadol, on the scale of approbation.

  • funnyman (Caribbean n.): Deceptively pleasant slur for homosexual male.

  • underrun (n. and v.): to read faster than an input is writing. A delivery deficit; the result of a slow feed and a small buffer. An addition to the signal-processing metaphor of human interaction.

  • harled (Scots adj.): of walls, surfaced roughly with lime and gravel.

  • Google-casino (n.? v.?): To dumbly type a long series of slightly iterated queries into a search in order to carry out a technical task you don't actually know how to do. Coined by Joe Armstrong.

  • golf clap (n.): Quiet applause (like the crowd on televised golf tournaments). By extension, a patronising imitation of a golf clap.

  • office drag (n.): Business attire, esp. that worn by bohemians who have found themselves in alienating jobs. Coined by Charles Stross(?)

  • Byzantine fault (n.): Problem which presents different symptoms to different parties and which is thus 1) not recognised as the same problem and 2) not really rooted out by individual debugging.

  • nerdview (n.): The technical understanding of something (esp. its low-level computer implementation); by implication, the tendency of those in the know to get stuck in this worldview. Used on Language Log when a nerd has failed to translate their nerdview for naturals.

  • data lake (n.): A vast, vast distributed store of all your raw data, keeping all the unprocessed richness and losing the costs of feature extraction + relational schema construction. As opposed to a structured data warehouse.

  • avabit (n.): An Avogadro's number of bits (68 billion TB). Just as A's number is a fundamental unit for working chemists, so avabits are a basic unit in Stross' Accelerando world.

  • utility fog (n.): A cloud of useful nanobots. The non-malignant (pre-malignant...) version of grey goo.

  • etendue (n.): Extent of a light beam; the product of source's area and its solid angle. A fundamental physical property, but not a famous one, for some reason.

  • lyssin: A homeopathic remedy purporting to vaccinate vs rabies. Evil, then. Found in this James Blake vid - but he may not have been being grim and it might just be an order to "listen". Or both, hopefully.

  • jumper (US, n.): a pinafore. vest (US, n.): a waistcoat.

  • fintech (adj.): financial technology, particularly the new and decentralised and uncontrollable kind. This term will pollute your visual field by 2017.

  • idea debt (n.): The emotional burden incurred for not acting upon your grand plans: a distinctive blend of guilt, irrational attachment, immobility, and hype. Coined by Kazu Kibushi.

  • sonorize (v.): To add sound to (a silent film). Term of opprobrium; compare colorize and bowdlerize. Yet I have never seen any film which could not be improved by intermittent music at least.