Those Were the Days: On ‘Nostalgia’ When missing home was a disease

Although we now associate nostalgia with fond memory, the word was coined to refer to an unwanted medical condition. The –algia in nostalgia means “pain”; a product of New Latin, it can be found in more clinical-sounding words such as glossalgia (pain in the tongue), cranialgia (a fancy word for headache), and proctalgia (a literal pain in the behind). Johannes Hofer (1669–1752) was a Swiss physician who named the condition, which he identified as a mania tied to homesickness in…

Pop song lyrics use more negative words (“hate”, “sorrow”) than 50 years ago

The use of words related to negative emotions has increased by more than one third…. If we assume an average of 300 words per song, every year there are 30,000 words in the lyrics of the [Billboard] top-100 hits. In 1965, around 450 of these words were associated with negative emotions, whereas in 2015 their number was above 700. Meanwhile, words associated with positive emotions decreased in the same time period.

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In January 2000, I was blogging about dancing paperclips, the transience of literary judgement, “bafflegab,” and a planned B&N/Microsoft online bookstore

In January 2000, I was blogging about Dancing paperclips and telemarketers A “100 best novels” list published in 1899 Updike’s prequel to Hamlet The “bafflegab” jargon generator “Bookseller Barnes & Noble is teaming with Microsoft to build a new online e-book store.” (but the link is dead)

Long Live The English Major—If It’s Paired With An Industry-Recognized Credential

What does this simple question and its results tell us? It’s not the English major that’s the problem. It’s an industry-recognized skill attached to the English major that’s the opportunity. I’ve long advocated for a rebranding of the term liberal arts. Americans generally and employers more specifically value the elements of a liberal arts degree such as critical thinking and skilled communication. But the words “liberal” and “arts” get in the…

My Freshman Comp Student Didn’t Recognize the Term ‘Word Processor’

Most of my students use MS-Word, but maybe a third use Google Docs (that’s a big increase lately) and a handful (but a bigger handful) use Pages. Today during a writing conference, a freshman comp student blinked in confusion when I asked her to “take me to your word processor.” I tried again. “Open up a blank page so I can write something.” That made perfect sense to her, and…

Empathy in a Downtown Sub Shop

Sitting in a downtown sub shop. A half dozen 40yo dudes — boots & jeans & beards & tattoos — pile in, trash-talking each other. “I don’t wanna sit next to *that* retard!” says a guy in a knit cap. “You gotta pick your ‘tards!” I take a deep breath. Almost immediately, the dude with the biggest beard and most visible tattoos lowers his voice and murmurs something to Guy…