### Coinage

Today’s word of the day is nostalgium.

nos·tal·gium /nɔ.ˈstæl.d͡ʒəm/, pl. nostalgiums.

noun
An object that provokes nostalgia when perceived or remembered.

Origin
2011: intentional coinage by Steve Kass (http://www.stevekass.com), back-formation from nostalgia. Pluralized as nostalgiums to distinguish from nostalgia.

### One Response to “Word of the Day: Nostalgium”

1. John Muccigrosso Says:

Ugh, says the Latinist.

Today’s word of the day is emmadden.

verb
To constructively make mad or crazy, or to feign to make mad or crazy, always without malice or injury, and usually with the complete opposites.

Origin
2011: intentional coinage by Steve Kass (http://www.stevekass.com), variant of madden with intentionally vague technoetymology. Perhaps a portmanteau of madden and imagine, perhaps an intensive of madden, or perhaps a variation of madden that communicates a quality of uncertainty or inconfidence, as if compounded with the interjection um.

### One Response to “Word of the day: Emmadden”

1. Glenn Bingham Says:

“Emmadden” seems to be parallel to the circumfix that a few English words required to form causatives from an adjectival base form:

enlighten = to bring to light / make light
(lighten = make lighter)
embolden = to make bold
*bolden / *embold

The circumfix is fundamentally en-ADJ-en with the first “n” assimilating the labial quality of the following phoneme: n > m.

There is still no good answer to the question “Why can’t we walk straight?”, observed Robert Krulwich’s recorded voice at a recent live taping for Radiolab at The Greene Space. Robert’s observation ressounded¹ today on the “NPR sciencey blog” Krulwich Wonders.

For 80 years, scientists have been trying to explain this tendency to turn when you think you are going straight. … Try as they might, and they’re still trying these experiments, nobody has figured out why we can’t go straight.

When I was a kid, Someone thought they’d figured it out. One’s dominant leg took longer strides, They taught me. I also learned, or maybe inferred, that I should find a leftie to walk with me should I ever need to cross a desert in the fog, at night, or while blindfolded.

But hearing Robert talk about this twice in as many weeks, I realized that They’d been wrong, and that crossing a desert in the fog was not a challenge I’d be ready to meet. (Also, I only then realized that a leftie might not be handy when the challenge arose, anyway.)

Ignoring my sudden and deepening nonplus, I focused on the question. Analogy time.² Robert’s headlineworthy version of the question is an oversimplification of the quandary, but I’ll notwithstand that fact for now.

Why can’t we fly? (Some animals can.) Because we don’t have small bodies, hollow bones, and wings (like some flying-capable animals do); nor do we have really tiny invertebrate bodies and wings (like some other flying-capable animals do).

Why can’t we hear high-pitched sounds? (Some animals can.) Because human ears (unlike the ears of the animals that can) aren’t physically able to convert high-pitched sounds into nerve impulses.

So why can’t we maintain our direction over long distances without a visual point of reference? (Some animals, especially flying-capable ones, can.) Because (unlike those animals) humans never underwent any evolutionary pressure to develop a mechanism to do so?

Robert mentioned one of the trying scientists by name: Jan Sousman. Jan’s article, Walking Straight into Circles, recently appeared in the journal Current Biology (a cornucopia of articles at the titles of which biologists surely titter: Olfaction: When Nostrils Compete; Metastasis: Alone or Together?; Addiction: Flies Hit the Skids; Flagella and Cilia: The Long and the Short of It; and Melanocyte Production: Dark Side of the Schwann Cell).

Jan and his coauthors wrote a wonderful paper. Among many beautiful sentences and figures, they report that their subjects’ “walking trajectories show exactly the kind of behavior that would be expected if the subjective sense of straight ahead were to follow a correlated random walk.” They also mention J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers to point out that the belief “that people who get lost end up walking in circles is widespread.”

So “because we can’t” isn’t really such a good answer. Our proprioception (that sixth sense that allows us to touch our noses in the dark when we haven’t had too much to drink) does provide a subjective sense of straight ahead. However, it isn’t very reliable for very far or for very long.`

¹ I initially wrote reappeared, which on rereading, sounded (or more sensibly, looked) wrong, because Robert’s voice never appeared (as in became visible to the eye) in the first place. Unable to solve the Miller Analogy SEE : REAPPEAR :: HEAR: with an existing word, I had to invent the perfect answer: res̈ound (which should appear as the word resound with an umlaut/trema/diaeresis over the s). This answer is in fact all the more perfect (not to mention very unique) for having been invented by a “greater New Yorker.” Unfortunately, as much as I like the idea of using ¨ to estop a preceding prefix from losing its strict meaning, it fails in practical terms. Very few consonants appear in Unicode preëquipped with the dots, and Unicode’s zero-width combining diaeresis, the solution in theory, is unworkably fussy.

² Yay!

Today’s word of the day is surmisery.

sur·mis·er·y / ˈsɚːˈmɪzăɹi/

noun

Misery (the surmiser’s) arising from a surmisal.

Origin
2010: intentional coinage by Steve Kass (http://www.stevekass.com), portmanteau of surmise and misery.

Over at Language Log, Geoffrey Pullum relates his discovery of “the neolexeme embiggen in a perfectly serious Economist report about Ascension Island.” Should embiggen, um, embiggen its foothold in the English language, its coiner, The Simpsons writer Dan Greavey, might enter into “the very select club of people who invented words that [like cromulent, grok, and Pullum’s own eggcorn] make it into major dictionaries.” (Here, major apparently means at least somewhat more exclusive than Wiktionary.)

Unfortunately, none of the words I’ve coined or threatened to coin, like headlinic, toddfoolery, pastametric, mispostrophe, maniest, alsowise, sicize, vulpigeration, and interludinous, have made it even so far as Wiktionary, my having modestly forborne the public onanism of adding them myself. Still, I do hope to join the club some day.

This, this, and this. Specifically, foolish nonsense from someone named Todd (Henderson).

### 2 Responses to “Pastametric Equations”

1. terrikass Says:

the beauty of mathematics
maybe that’s why i cried over my math homework……it was so beautiful.

2. Steve Kass » Pastametric Equations #2: Cavatappi Says:

[...] few months ago, I posted a graph and parametric equations for conchiglie rigati. Today I’m sharing a graph and equations for cavatappi. As before, I started with equations from [...]

CNN doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it should, given that they’re easily as irresponsible as their buddies at [expletive deleted]. Today they’re fanning the fires about “illegal immigration,” the current euphemism for people we don’t like because they’re brownish and speak another language especially Spanish. Writer Arthur Brice devotes a big chunk of a 900-word article on CNN.com today to a discussion of “anchor babies,” the current not-so-euphemism for babies of people we don’t like because they’re brownish and speak another language especially Spanish. Here’s my brief rant on the article, “Report: 8 percent of U.S. newborns have undocumented parents.”

Before ranting, though, let me be one of the first to greet all these new and beautiful U.S. citizens: “¡Welcome, and bienvenidos!”

This rant has two parts. First, let’s see what “have undocumented parents” means, so we know more about this 8% on whom the goons will be spreading their invective. The phrase shouldn’t mean anything other than “have undocumented parents,” but somehow it does, and not just because of headlinic license. It means “has at least one undocumented parent.” Here’s the relevant wording (emphasis mine) from the Pew report Brice describes:

A child has unauthorized immigrant parents if either parent is unauthorized. A child has U.S.-born parents if all identified parents are U.S.-born.

Well, that’s stupid. The asymmetry reminds me of the definition of Colored, as in for the purpose of what school you can go to, what train car you can sit in, and what drinking fountain you can use, and, before the 14th amendment was ratified, as in whether you were a U.S. citizen, more or less.

Next thing you know, today’s goons who want to abridge the Fourteenth Amendment will find a way to damn not only these youngsters but sus hijos y nietos también, no matter what, probably because fuck the Constitution and Bill of Rights, God tells them to.

Not to mention that “[s]ome pregnant women from other countries are traveling to the United States to give birth and then taking their babies back home to raise them as terrorists that would return to attack America,” a concern raised by Texas state representative Debbie Riddle, “a Republican,” that Brice thought fit to pass on.

Tattooing the letter U on them to start, maybe? (You can bet they’d have no problem paying for that medical procedure with government dollars.)

Part 2: The word “anchor babies” doesn’t appear in the Pew report, but instead of leaving it out of the article entirely, Brice fills us in. He knows that more people will read an article if it’s about anchor babies.

“Babies born to illegal alien mothers within U.S. borders are called anchor babies because under the 1965 immigration Act, they act as an anchor that pulls the illegal alien mother and eventually a host of other relatives into permanent U.S. residency,” says an organization called The American Resistance, which has described itself as “a coalition of immigration crime fighters opposing illegal and undocumented immigration.”

Minor partial credit to Brice for using the past tense when mentioning The American Resistance, but he forgot to mention that they are “no longer an active – or updated – Website or effort,” and haven’t been since 2006, according to — well, themselves, in a message they left on the web four years ago. The fact that Brice names them at all is goofy, to put it kindly. There are dozens of non-moribund organizations he could have called up. A Youtube link to a [expletive deleted] broadcast from within the last week, maybe.

That’s all. Have a nice week.

In a few hours, and despite the free dinner, I won’t be attending “Is a Roth Right for You?”

On account of my zip code, probably, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney invited me to call or email Jacqui to reserve my place at the free event with limited seating, which I didn’t. In addition to dinner, I’ll be missing the guest speaker, who as far as I can tell is the world’s sole “Vice President of Value Add and Retirement Marketing.”

“Value Add,” you ask? So did I, and I looked it up.

According to Steve Bloemer, value add is “your company’s unique blend of products and services, and how those are perceived by your prospects and clients.” He adds that “Among the value adds I envision as important for a web hosting provider, infrastructure, 24×7 support and hands-on expertise rank high.” Steve, an “Inside Sales Manager” at Hostirian elaborates. “Would two 20AMP circuits per rack be a value add, or simply norm? If you offer business class shared web hosting plans, would that be a value add? Certainly, value adds are competition driven.”

Steve Bosserman (no relation) hyphenates it and explains, “Value-add dominates our economic scorecard,” and “The concept of value-add also plays a role in information technology and data services.” He refreshingly admits that “Here, though, the meaning is vague.”

The Urban Dictionary is more straightforward. Its #1 definition is “A business euphemism for “the reason I’d like you to think I’m useful.””

Unfortunately, or not, I can only coin, not uncoin.

HTH,

Steve

Today’s new word is mispostrophe.

mis·pos·tro·phe / mɪs ˈpɒs trə fi /

noun
Mispostrophe refers to the misuse of punctuation, specifically of the apostrophe (’). Mispostrophe can refer to a spurious apostrophe, a word containing a spurious apostrophe, or the incorrect usage of the apostrophe. The fourth word of this sentence contains a mispostrophe: “The town’s recent immigrant’s voted overwhelmingly against the lottery, yet the will of the manier natives prevailed.”; “He entered the MENS restroom without even noticing the sign’s mispostrophe.”

Origin:
2010: intentional coinage by Steve Kass (http://www.stevekass.com).

Related forms:

mispostrophecate, mispostrophecation

anapostrophe: Mispostrophe of missing apostrophe. (“Dont smoke here.”)
dyspostrophe: Mispostrophe of misplaced apostrophe. (“Wer’e closed Mondays.”)
surpostrophe: Mispostrophe of spurious apostrophe. (“Apple’s on sale.”)

Inspired by Jonathan Coulton, who tweeted this confectionery mispostrophe.

### 3 Responses to “Todays new word: Mispostrophe”

1. Andrew Willett Says:

Right. Sometimes I feel like painting the following in very large letters across, I dunno, the moon:

DEAR EVERYONE: THE APOSTROPHE IS NOT THE UNIVERSAL SYMBOL FOR “HEY LOOK HERE COMES THE LETTER S.” PLEASE ADJUST YOUR PRACTICES ACCORDINGLY. DO NOT MAKE ME COME OVER THERE.

Although that wouldn’t do anything about Soft’ees. As I suggested to JoCo, maybe they’re using it to indicate a glottal stop? Not that it would make any sort of linguistic sense. But you can see two properly executed apostrophes on the box right there in the picture — so what the hell is their excuse?

2. Steve Says:

They have no excuse. In fact, they registered “Enten-Mini’s” (http://entenmanns.bimbobakeriesusa.com/op-cat.cfm/catId/12) as a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. (Direct link not possible; search http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=searchss&state=4006:33ddbq.1.1 for the serial number 76654844).

There’s no USPTO registration for “Sof’tees,” however, so maybe Entenmann’s has some modicum of shame.

3. Steve Kass » Looming Chocolate Says:

[...] us not backing up Ray Davies in Philadelphia gathered for dinner in Hoboken, I spotted this holiday mispostrophe (ssp. [...]

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