Tuesday 8 July 2008

One of the greatest blogs.

Some excellent stuff on Language Log, as ever. Firstly, the coining of a new word, "nerdview":

Language Log readers may appreciate the following classic example of writing in technical terms from the perspective of the technician or engineer rather than from a standpoint that would seem useful to the customer or reader.


The problem I am pointing to, however, is not about web programming or sorting technicalities. It is a simple problem that afflicts us all: people with any kind of technical knowledge of a domain tend to get hopelessly (and unwittingly) stuck in a frame of reference that relates to their view of the issue, and their trade's technical parlance, not that of the ordinary humans with whom they so signally fail to engage. ... The phenomenon — we could call it nerdview — is widespread.

I really hope the word catches on. I'm going to be using it. It's great when a new word comes along for something that you've been talking about for years. And it's great that the word sounds a bit derogatory, 'cause then, if it does catch on, it might discourage that which it describes.

Then there's this photo of the single greatest IT fuck-up I have ever seen.

And finally, following some link or other, I found this gem in their archives:

Let's be clear (since so many people seem to think the French always have a word for everything): this is a language used by people who are supposed to be the big experts in love and kissing and sexy weekends of ooh-la-la, and they don't have words for "boy", "girl", "warm", "love", "kiss", or "weekend".


I know, I'm going to get a whole flood of stupid email defending the beautiful French language and its expressivité: "La langue française, elle est si belle", they'll say, referring to their language as if it were a girl (not that they can say "girl"); Le français, they will say (inexplicably switching their gender decision from feminine to masculine), "est une langue" (O.K., so we're back to feminine again) magnifique, la langue de Racine et de Molière et de Balzac et de Rimbaud... All this from people who think a uvular scraping sound like a cat bringing up a hairball is a perfectly reasonable noise to use instead of an honest "r". From people who simply cannot make their minds up about whether an attributive adjective should precede the modified noun (sensible!) or follow it (silly!): the ever-indecisive French say un bon vin blanc ("a good wine white"), with one before the noun and one after. Get a grip! Pick one or the other!


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