Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Speech as an Act of Performative Utterance: Language Performativity Suggests Rethinking the ImpACT of the Human Word

What a superb article by Peggy Noonan at the Wall Street Journal (WSJ)
at Why We Care About the Royal Family Feud.

Noonan's "performativity"-centered discussion about the British Monarchy has had a special bonus for us, by opening up a new way of thinking about human communication and interaction in the form of "speech acts", which analysis also provides an unexpected connection to "critical legal thinking" (see the link below).

The Wikipedia writes: "Performativity is the concept that language can function as a form of social action and have the effect of change. The concept has multiple applications in diverse fields such as anthropology, social and cultural geography, economics, gender studies (social construction of gender), law, linguistics, performance studies, history, management studies and philosophy." [link added]

Indeed, "performativity" suggests to us that the unending mainstream media discussion about controversial social topics such as e.g. White House lies and untruths over the last four years have completely -- and we mean completely -- missed the point in their analysis of the significance of an avalanche of Twitter Tweets from the past U.S. President and from his similar performative utterances. Something else -- arguably more important than truth -- was at work.

As the language professionals writing about performativity suggest to us, it is not the content of spoken words per se or even the truth or falsity of that content that is at issue, but rather the purpose viz. societal influence of a given "speech act",
ala John L. Austin.

Read on below .... where we find to our astonishment ... really, in a fascinating turn of analysis ... that the assertion of truth or untruth has nothing to do with it.

Who would have thought it. Performativity is even applicable to basic science.

It is thus likely e.g. that the truth of history or other content being written about is not the chief issue in academic publications, as otherwise alleged by the powers that be, but rather the often hidden ulterior motives lurking behind such publications that are among the main driving forces of science. Scientific periodicals and human interactions at gatherings such as congresses can thus fundamentally be viewed as forums for performative acts. Recall that the motto is "publish or perish" but NOT "publish the truth or perish".

We have always known the above to be true, but never understood why.

Now we suspect to know a little more.

Hat tip to CaryGEE.

Friday, May 29, 2015

"Hashtag" Children's Word of the Year

Hashtag is the Children's Word of the Year according to a story at BBC News.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Who Owns the Words? The Practice of Commercial Enterprises Stealing for Private Profit the Goodwill Affiliated with Public Generic Terms

We continue to maintain that legislatures around the world should pass simple laws imposing draconian licensing fees on companies that are stealing OUR major "public" generic words -- and the goodwill associated with them -- for nothing, while shamelessly suing others for allegedly imitating their far less important so-called "inventions", like rubber-band bounce-back patents granted by a clueless USPTO. The world is out of whack!

The Apple firm is one of the worst offenders on the planet on this score, stealing major public words like "retina" and "paper" from you and I as the public -- it is OUR language -- for base commercial purposes and not having to pay a penny for it.

See the newest fiasco at the New York Times in Makers of Paper App Ask Facebook to Change Its New App Name.

By law, we would force the Apple firm to be correctly renamed for its founders as Wozniak-Jobs, Inc. (or how about WOZJOI or even WOZJOIAPPLE, which would be a "new" invention and not a stolen name) and the word "apple" -- which belongs to the people -- would by law be returned to us, and, by the way, to its prominent place e.g. in the Bible, an ancient source of mankind's history having nothing to do with these digital monopolists.

The same is true for any number of commercial enterprises who steal OUR words for their private profit. Windows anyone? That's what we look through in our house. Reverse this terrible process of lexical stealing by which companies -- for NO compensation -- profit on the goodwill attached to words!

Let them name companies after their founders. The only reason that they do not do so is because they can steal the -- highly profitable -- goodwill attached to popular words and pay nothing.

This whole business of intellectual property rights is a pea-and-shell game against the common weal. Who reimburses THE PEOPLE for the words stolen from the general pool of language??!!

These commercial hawkers are stealing YOU, the public, blind, and you do not get it.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Thursday, May 31, 2012

You are Judged by Your Words: Prescriptive English as the Language of People in Power

At the New Yorker, Ryan Bloom at Language Wars in Inescapably, You're Judged by Your Language, tells us that prescriptive English is the language of people in power:
"Repugnant as it may be, the simple answer is that we need to learn prescriptive English because that’s the way the people in power communicate. As far as daily survival is concerned, it doesn’t matter whether the origins of this linguistic power structure are racist, classist, or √©litist, or whether they’re based on the whims of dead white males. This is how the system works right now, today, and in order to best get the attention of those in power, to begin to effect change, we must be able to use their dialect. We must know their rules."
Read the rest of this fascinating article at The New Yorker.

Crossposted at LawPundit.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ancient Signs The Alphabet and The Origins of Writing

Ancient Signs: The Alphabet and the Origins of Writing
by Andis Kaulins is now available in 4 versions
(b/w, color, and both of those also as ebooks)

In Ancient Signs, the author traces the origins of writing and the alphabet to syllabic writing systems in ancient cultures and shows that these have one common origin.

Ancient Signsprint b/w version black and white inside
B/W inside
200 pages, 90 gram paper
Price: €35.99 (about US $47 on day of posting)
for the B/W print version of Ancient Signs
Ancient Signs traces the origins of the alphabet
to syllabic writing.
Softcover - print b/w, cover in color

Ancient Signs

eBook b/w version black and white version
B/W inside
200 pages
Price: €27.99 (about US $37 on day of posting)
for the B/W eBook version of Ancient Signs
Ancient Signs traces the origins of the alphabet
to syllabic writing. Ancient Signs

color print version color inside
COLOR inside
200 pages, 150 gram glossy paper
Price: €149.00 (about US $196 on day of posting)
for the color print version of Ancient Signs
Ancient Signs traces the origins of the alphabet
to syllabic writing.
Hardcover - print and cover in color Ancient Signs

color eBook version color inside
COLOR inside
200 pages
Price: €39.99 (about US $52 on day of posting)
for the color inside eBook version of Ancient Signs
Ancient Signs traces the origins of the alphabet
to syllabic writing.

Enjoy Reading.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

App it is: American Dialect Society Selects Word of the Year 2010 : APP

Sean D. Hamill at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that the American Dialect Society has selected its word word of the year 2010: "app" it is.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Word of the Year 2010: Sarah Palin's Refudiate

 We got this from the Oxford University Press:

"Word lovers, you’ve been waiting 12 long months for Oxford to announce the new Word of the Year, and it’s


An unquestionable buzzmaker in 2010, the word refudiate instantly evokes the name of Sarah Palin, who tweeted her way into a flurry of media activity when she used the word in certain statements posted on Twitter. Critics pounced on Palin, lampooning what they saw as nonsensical vocabulary and speculating on whether she meant “refute” or “repudiate.”

From a strictly lexical interpretation of the different contexts in which Palin has used “refudiate,” we have concluded that neither “refute” nor “repudiate” seems consistently precise, and that “refudiate” more or less stands on its own, suggesting a general sense of “reject.” Although Palin is likely to be forever branded with the coinage of “refudiate,” she is by no means the first person to speak or write it.

To set up an interview with an editor/lexicographer to discuss the 2010 Word of the Year, please contact
Robert Wicks at 212.726.6033, robert.wicks@oup.com,

Please also be in contact if you would like to see additional materials:
-Full press release
-Word of the Year FAQs
-The WOTY Short List Candidates
-“Refudiate” has a past, but does it have a future?
-Refudiate: The Timeline
-Nom nom! (Why 2010 was a good year for our language)
-More word blends!

Information can also be found at OUPblog: http://bit.ly/bifnQs

OUP USA’s Word of the Year is sponsored by the New Oxford American Dictionary.

Robert Wicks
Oxford University Press, Inc.
198 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4314

Friday, September 10, 2010

On Words | Brain Pickings

On Words | Brain Pickings: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Concision at The Smart Set: A Brief History

Concision is discussed at The Smart Set in A Brief History by Ryan Bigge
"Ours is not the first society to value an economy of words.

Less is more.

Omit needless words.

Brevity is the soul of wit.

Offer very little information about yourself."
Read the rest about concision here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Google Books and Copyright Law : New Feature Creates Word Clouds for Published Materials : The Example of Stars Stones and Scholars by Andis Kaulins

Words. Words. Words.

Google Books has a special page for Legal Analysis relating to Google Books and copyright law.

Our photo shows the sculpture "The Word" at Groote Markt, the marketplace in Sint-Niklaas, capital of Waasland, Flanders, Belgium,the largest such marketplace in the country:

Google Books is a wonderful information resource which can assist greatly in determining whether to buy a book or not.

Google Books has expanded in the course of time to include many new features. Among these new features are word clouds - in a book's "Overview" section - showing a selection of frequent important terms found in a book. Here is the Google Books word cloud for Stars Stones and Scholars, the Decipherment of the Megaliths by Andis Kaulins.

"Common terms and phrases

Ain Ghazal Ancient Britain Andis Kaulins Andromeda Aquarius Aquila Arbor Low astronomical Auriga Autumn Equinox Barclodiad Y Gawres Bouar Canis Major Carnac Cassiopeia Catal Huyuk Cave Paintings Ceide Fields Celestial Pole Centaurus Cepheus Cetus Clava Cairns Cohen Gadol Coma Berenices constellations Corona Australis Corona Borealis County Sligo Creswell Crags Cygnus Decipherment Delphinus Deneb Dolmen Draco Dschubba Ecliptic Pole Egypt Eridanus Estonia Externsteine False Cross Fowlis Wester Gardom's Edge Gavrinis Gemini Ggantija Gozo Herefordshire Beacon Hierakonpolis Hyades Hydra Hydrus Kents Cavern Lanyon Quoit Large Magellanic Cloud Lascaux Latvian Leo Minor Magdalenians Malta megaliths Menhir Miami Circle Milky Mnajdra Mulfra Neolithic Newgrange Ophiuchus Ordnance Survey Perseus planisphere Pleiades Pole Star precession Richard Hinckley Allen Rock Drawing Rollright Stones Sagittarius Sarsens Saulheim Scorpio Scotland Serpens Caput Serpens Cauda Silbury Hill Solstice Stonehenge Tarxien Taurus Trethevy Quoit tumuli Ursa Major Ursa Minor Virgo Wayland's Smithy Yarmukian Zhangye"

We are very happy to be part of Google Books and view "word clouds" of our published works to be "fair use". But is the legal issue here so simple?

Take a look at these word cloudsvia Federal News Service transcriptsregarding the Democratic Party and Republican Party conventions leading to the US Presidential Election of Barack Obama.

It would certainly seem to be the case that a particular design of a word cloud is copyrightable, and since every word cloud has its own design, then word clouds would appear to be subject to copyright protection. But who owns the words in a cloud?

Word clouds are essentially one example ofdata visualization, for which there are numerous programs online.

Is a "word cloud" a derivative use (in which case it belongs to the original copyright holder) or is it a transformative use (in which case it belongs to the transformer). We favor the latter interpretation, but the issue has never been litigated.

As software applications show, "word clouds" appear to have a very "proprietary" character.

Online anyone can generate word clouds for free at WORDLE.net, which, however, claims the copyright to the word cloud image created, licensing it under a Creative Commons license with attribution. Here is a Wordle word cloud of the most recent postings at LawPundit:

Wordle: LawPundit Recent Postings

There is also a free networking site for writers at The Word Cloud.

Crossposted to LawPundit.

Friday, August 24, 2007

More on More on Spoonerisms, Chairs of Bowlies and Thimilar Sings

Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (Podcast)

Russell Frank's blog Spankly Freaking

Away With Words and Wordworking

Dave Brondsema

The Wunder Blog and their Daily Bug posting titled
Balking Tackwards


The Grumpy Old Man has some Pedantic Moans in this direction and gives a nice list of Spoonerisms

Goonerisms Spalore!
has a list (Parental Guidance recommended)

Joho the Blog has an on-the-borderline list (Parental Guidance definitely recommended)

Home is where The Horse is in the posting The man behind the muddle talks about Spooner

and see, generally,
Figures of Speech
with "Many definitions from: The American Heritage ® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright © 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed from InfoSoft International, Inc. All rights reserved."