Sunday, January 08, 2006

Truthiness, Muffin Tops and Whale Tails

Enormous leaps of faith often occur based on some study or set of statistics, and if you follow the lead of some of the talking heads on TV and radio and the internet too, then all you need are the hollow outlines of a concept to elicit meanings and conclusions which are then broadcast and published and someone who hears or reads it believes it to be true. One recent study concludes that an average 16-year old American girl is the most prominent influence on the English language.

The American Dialect Society discussed this and other issues over the last week, including the "newest" words to reach prominence in the English language. But is this influence truly new or are conclusions about how we talk accurate?

"Linguists believe that young women and men talk differently from each other: women ask questions out of politeness while men want data. Women allow each other to finish a sentence before starting their own, while men interrupt more. In addition, women seeking prestige pick up fashionable new words faster than men.

Experts believe this has been going on for centuries. A Finnish study of 15th-century English court correspondence, for example, shows that aristocratic wives moved from archaic "ye" to "you" significantly earlier than their husbands."

"Truthiness" was voted top new word (and coined, I think, by the Colbert Report on Comedy Central) and to me it plays like a word that is a concept that really doesn't need facts.

But for now, you can talk about whether or not podcasting will jump the couch as a bunch of whale-tailers and muffin tops, like, totally take over the world of words. (Play this game at home - just plug in your favorite era of slang, as in "The mod happening was groovy until the fuzz arrived." or how about "I jitterbugged until dawn with a tomato who was reet, sweet and not too petite." or "She got all Single-White Female on me" - thanks Buffy.)

And the fun thing about "studies" and "scientific surveys" is that you can create on almost anything you imagine. Another recent study was launched to study the ways in which clothing affects the appearance of a woman's butt. Love the picture that accompanied the story too.

And there's this one about how cell phones and mobile text-messaging causes more tension within a family.

Hope this life-hacks your blogging.


  1. Cunning Linguist Monkey12:01 PM

    Woids are always fun! Out of the list from the link you provided, I kinda like "jump the couch", & you, apparently, are a "pajamahadeen".....
    It's no surprise teenage girls are driving the language, as they already seem to be in control of pop music & the network TV lineup.

  2. You must read "When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?" by George Carlin. Him most cunning of linguists.