Multimedia | Computers and Writing 2013

Earlier this week, the Computers and Writing folks discussed the decline in the use of the word “computer” in MLA job ads. The decline is more than offset by a rise in related terms, so the discussion appropriately focused on the value of “computers” as an umbrella term. (In our daily lives, we increasingly use things we know as tablets, netbooks, smartphones, etc. rather than “computers.” There are now, for…

Melissa Terras Reports Her Success in Making Digital Humanities More Inclusive

A pleasant little success story. “TEI” is the “Text Encoding Initiative,” an international effort to define and standardize the digital representation of texts. [I]n 2006 I first noticed that the TEI guidelines encouraged the use of ISO5218:2004 to assign sexuality of persons in a document (with attributes being given as 1 for male, 2 for female, 9 for non-applicable, and 0 for unknown). I find this an outmoded and problematic…


Chillax, Wikipedia, and bridezilla are not puns: Against adjoinages

So if recessionista and fembot are not really puns, what are they? They’re neolexic portmanteaus, in which root words are brutally slammed together with cavalier lack of wit. “Neolexic portmanteau” is a mouthful, so instead we shall choose a simpler handle. Sherry-manteau, catastrounity, misceg-formation, piss-poortmanteau, and poor-man’s-toes all proffer themselves as alternatives, but they are still laborsome. Therefore, I christen these neolexic portmanteaus adjoinages—a functioning portmanteau pun, in case you…


Loaded Words: How Language Shapes The Gun Debate

Here’s a great article I’m asking all my journalism students and all my lit-crit students to read. Words do more than just describe the world. They literally define it. They shape and frame it. “Most people don’t understand this,” says linguist George Lakoff of the University of California, Berkeley. “Most people think that words just refer to things in the world and that they’re neutral. And that’s just not true.”…


Why Drag It Out?

The ways that the informal speech of women impacts the language is soooo underexplored. For the past five years, Sali Tagliamonte, a linguist at the University of Toronto, has been gathering digital-communications data from students. In analyzing nearly 4 million words, she’s found some interesting patterns. “This reduplication of letters, it’s not all crazy,” she told me. Certain vowels—o, a, and e—are the most-frequent candidates for multiplication. Words are most frequently…


Resumes: Top 5 Tips for Job Hunters

I just freshened up an older instructional page, Resumes: Top 5 Tips for Job Hunters. I still need to update the examples, but my advice is pretty much the same as it was in the late 1990s when I posted the first draft. Value the Chance to Try Again Balance Creativity with Function Details, Details, Details Presentation Matters Strike the Right Tone (Don’t Undersell or Overhype Yourself)


A Wealth of Words

People with similar vocabulary sizes may vary significantly in their talent and in the depth of their understanding. Nonetheless, there’s no better index to accumulated knowledge and general competence than the size of a person’s vocabulary. Simply put: knowing more words makes you smarter. And between 1962 and the present, a big segment of the American population began knowing fewer words, getting less smart, and becoming demonstrably less able to…