Khyan “All Cars Are Girls”

via All Cars Are Girls – YouTube.

Nice deconstruction of socio-historic normativity embedded in language!

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Christopher Fairman “Fuck: Word Taboo and Protecting Our First Amendment Liberties”

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Fairman establishes that most current usages of the word have connotations distinct from its meaning of sexual intercourse. The book discusses the efforts of conservatives in the United States to censor the word from common parlance. The author says that legal precedent regarding its use is unclear because of contradictory court decisions. Fairman argues that once citizens allow the government to restrict the use of specific words, this will lead to an encroachment upon freedom of thought.

via Fuck: Word Taboo and Protecting Our First Amendment Liberties – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Thoughts? I haven’t read the book, just saw this article featured on Wikipedia’s homepage. I would agree that in normal conversation, while “fuck” can be used in a literal sense, it’s much more often used figuratively – a lot like many other taboo words. (Think of phrases like “what the hell” and “____-ass”.) I’m not the biggest fan of psychoanalysis as an analytical framework, though, despite feeling that in its time it was perhaps a necessary breath of fresh air. Perhaps an interesting, nonconventional angle to help you think outside the box, but not a theory I like to guide my scholarship with, in general.

#Hashtag …and other thoughts

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Hashtags have become such a common practice these days that people have started using them outside of their intended purpose. People use them in text messages, chats, songs, and advertisements.

via How to Use Hashtags on Every Social Media Network | Sprout Social.

As a semiotician, I find this very interesting. It suggests to me that hashtags started out with relatively uncomplicated semantic value, but have become a quasi-linguistic phenomenon with much richer meaning. Much in the way that human beings will, purposely or without planned direction, reshape the connotations, denotations, and forms of words (see my earlier post linking to Dictionary.com’s slideshows), it seems that we’ve expanded the meaning of hashtags. While for me, the word “hashtag” (signifier) denotatively still refers to the visual pound sign # (signified), the connotations are much richer. The sign act (if I may so put it) that we engage in when using this signifier and signified has come to include socio-cultural phenomena that are linked to the use of hashtags: The frivolity or grassroots empowerment, depending on how you see it, of the social media trend; the age-old debate about whether the latest crop of young people is ruining the world or saving it (I frequently cite Socrates’ distaste for the burgeoning fashion of writing as an example of how far back this goes). Perhaps the hashtag has become a visual, verbal, and experiential metaphor for our experience(s) of digital life, as intertwined generations, cultures, and societies?

Now I’m extra excited for the documentary Life After Digital, airing on TVO at 9PM Wednesday, December 17!

The language nerd in me loves this!

I love Dictionary.com‘s quirky and informative slideshows. And they even mention descriptive grammar on the 5th slide (“literally”)! In particular, I enjoy that they’re relatively non-partisan about the descriptivist/prescriptivist debate. Here’s another one, just for fun.