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,,

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:

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, 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."

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Spoonerisms and other Verbal Blunders: Um ... by Erard

Um ... er .... ah. Having trouble speaking or writing? Do you suffer from lips of the stung? Do you sometimes write there for their? You are not a loan. The process of communication by words is beset with surprising linguistic obstacles.

Micheal Erard is "a journalist who writes mainly about language at the intersection of technology, policy, law, and science." He has a new book out Um...: Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean.

Erard talks about those slips of the tongue that befall most of us at tome sime or another. It is an instructive world of verbal blunders made famous in our own day by US President Bush's "Dubyaspeak", which led to Erard's Um.

But the problem of dubyaspeak is older than President Bush. Former US President Herbert Hoover was, for example, also famed indirectly by a spoonerism, a lexical flip by radio announcer Harry von Zell, who referred to Hoover once as Hoobert Heever (read this account as a general lesson in evidence).

In his review of Erard's book, Dennis Lythgoe at the Desert Morning News writes as follows about "Um" and "Dubyaspeak":

"Erard became interested in the subject of verbal blunders during the 2000 presidential campaign, when George W. Bush’s malapropisms were referred to as “abnormal” in media reports. Erard thought critics were too hard on Bush, because he believes all of us commit verbal blunders.

He is convinced that making mistakes in speech is not a sign of a lack of intelligence. It is often caused by anxieties — people repeat words and restart sentences if they’re nervous. Or they may simply be accidental."

That may in part be confirmed at the blawg Yayarolly goes to law school, where "a 30-something's adventure in law school writes" in "Stick a fork in 1L, I'm done":

"Seriously. I'm tried. That's really the only way to describe what I am feeling right now. Not euphoric, not relieved, just tired. And a little concerned if my speech will ever be the same again... I've been spitting out spoonerisms over the last week like it's going out of style."

For more details about malopropisms , spoonerisms, and similar verbal blunders, see these reviews of Erard's book.