Word Terrorism: Wow, It's a Platisher

Ken Layne · 02/07/14 12:35PM

Language is our primary weapon in the ceaseless conflict that is modern life. Today we examine two words that are perfectly terrible reflections of our time: wow and platisher.

The Year's Very Worst Words Are So "Problematic"

Ken Layne · 12/31/13 01:30PM

Language is wonderful and language is alive, but language is also a form of psychological assault—especially when everybody suddenly starts using awful new terms and phrases just because everyone else is doing it, on Twitter. We are not so naive as to think we can "ban" this or that word, because "ban" is one of the words we would ban, if words could be banned. They cannot. Thanks to 2013, we're stuck with this bunch of linguistic garbage.

Word Terrorism: Black Friday Is Problematic For the Nuclear Option

Ken Layne · 11/25/13 01:51PM

problematic (noun, adjective) You're at work, looking at the Internet instead of doing tasks related to your employment. Something is bothering you! Did a celebrity comment on the issue of race? What is up with Katy Perry being so old? Why is "everyone" on Twitter mentioning a #longread that just didn't do anything for you? Welcome to the world of things that are problematic—meaning, things that don't concern you at all, as opposed to actual problems such as your parking tickets, student loans, self-diagnosed nutritional disorders and loser brother who wants to sleep on your sofa while he "looks for a job."

Word Terrorism: Can LongReads and Artisanal Beards 'Scale'?

Ken Layne · 09/23/13 02:18PM

beard: Ancient arcane term for a gay person's pretend heterosexual partner. Since the legal establishment of gay marriage, refers exclusively to lovingly tended long whiskers worn by urban men working in offices.

'Closed for Renovations' Is the New 'Closed'

cityfile · 10/16/09 02:03PM

Restaurants, bars, and clubs don't just shut down these days. They "close for renovations" for a few weeks or months. Then they announce that they are not, in fact, planning to reopen and they've been shuttered for good. Below: a few recent examples of what is sometimes the result of a series of unexpected events, but is often a face-saving public relations technique.

Txt Msg Slang Makes Ads Stpdr 4 U

Hamilton Nolan · 04/03/08 08:40AM

LOL! OMG! GIMME UR $$$! Did u kno that big companies are using txt msg lingo as a way to connect to young, hip consumers such as yourself? They totally r! The technique has the double whammy of not only being incredibly annoying in commercials, but also being incredibly annoying to read about in news stories. Particularly in a stodgy old rag like the Wall Street Journal, which is forced by custom and habit to spend a huge portion of the piece explaining to its audience what all these abbreviations mean. It's the same reason that it's annoying to read NYT stories about hip hop, or Washington Post stories about the latest trends in teen fucking. Just let the youth take care of it amongst themselves! NE wayz, these txt lingo ads are a mixed bag, since the necessity of translation cuts down on the desired cool factor. Prime example: this Cingular ad, depicting a situation that would cause a reasonable person to lock their child in the closet:

The return of CamelCase

Owen Thomas · 08/28/07 02:26PM

If you're not a word nerd, you'll want to skip this post. But for those who pay attention to such matters, a few notes on style. Previous regimes at Valleywag have vociferously rejected CamelCase in company names, but I've reinstated it. While I cringe when I see people incorrectly capitalize the "W" in "Valleywag," I find it equally noisome when people write "Myspace" for "MySpace" or "Linked In" for "LinkedIn." With all due respect to my predecessors, I don't think it makes one look hip; I think, rather, that it makes you look clueless and lazy. Likewise, I'm breaking with the vile Luddite practice of lowercasing "Internet" and "Web," and insisting on their capitalization. Why?

Just say no to camelcase

Chris Mohney · 02/20/07 12:00PM

We're waging a one-blog war against camelcase — or medial capitals for you pointy-headed punctuationists — that being the practice of embedding a capital letter in the middle of a word. For example: CamelCase. Typically this happens Valleywise in company names, startup or otherwise. But you'll notice we don't use 'em. No, it's Youtube, Myspace, etc., and say what you will about Powerset, at least they kept just the one capital. OK, sure, sometimes we accidentally forget the fatwa, and we've resigned ourself to "iTunes." Fortunately, the current vogue of pleasingly euphonious or alarmingly clunky startup names (see the great but too-infrequently-updated Qwerky) means that names suffer less from camelcase than they used to. But please, at least do us the small courtesy of not crapping on or crediting "ValleyWag."

Mogulspeak: Who would you hire?

Chris Mohney · 02/15/07 04:00PM

A perennial trope of mogul types — actual and aspiring — is praise by way of offer to hire. You see this a lot when one exec is asked about another whom he or she admires. Typically, Exec A sings the praises of Exec B, and as a capper, proudly claims that he or she would gladly hire Exec B, given the chance. On the face of it, a nice gesture; in reality, a rhetorical move that both absorbs and diminishes the status of the supposedly praised Exec B.

For example, Jason Calacanis is fond of this maneuver (e.g. Amanda Congdon and Lifehacker's Gina Trapani), though he's hardly alone. Robert Scoble even did the same thing for Gina, in agreement with Calacanis. This isn't to say that such hiring love isn't sincere hugs and kisses. It just comes across as a creepy bit of self-love, tossed in as the ultimate expression of appreciation. You are so very, very talented — so talented, in fact, that I would hire you. And I, as we know, am an excellent judge of these things. You've really made it now, kiddo, to have crossed the threshold of hireability for me.

The praising party gets to step on a little of the praise-ee's limelight, while subtly putting the praisee in his or her place. If you agree that the person is talented, well then, of course such an august personage would want to hire them. Such a smart cookie. And the proposed hiring is presented as a brass ring of achievement for the praised, doled out generously by the praising party.

Again, this is not to assign nefarious intent for every occurrence of the practice, or even for the Calacanis and Scoble examples noted above. But there are much more egregious examples out there. Think of particular cases when it's obvious that the praised would never in a million years work for the praiser — that's where the praiser just wants to glom on to the glory train. We're looking for a few of these to run for your amusement. If you come across any particularly "good" ones, send 'em in.