Word Spy Blog

Thought for Food

This week’s smorgasbord of neological brain food asks the question: For our species’ future protein needs, will we create more grazing land for the animals we eat or more foods based on insects? Perhaps the algorithms will decide for us.

Words Spied

c-fu n. A high-protein tofu made from mealworms or other insects (crickets + tofu). [Popular Science]

C-fu. Source: Popular Science.

grasslandification n. The process of turning wetlands and similar non-grazing lands into pasture. [Twitter]

no-drone zone n. An area over which drones or similar unpiloted aerial vehicles are prohibited to fly. [Reuters]

pregreening pp. At a traffic light, creeping forward in anticipation of the light turning from red to green. [East Bay Express]

Word of the Week

nostalgic present n. In a literary work, a setting similar to the present day, but without modern technologies such as smartphones and social media.

In literary fiction, the more popular solution seems to be relying on settings close to the present, but far enough back to avoid such inconvenience. Granted, the popularity of the 1970s, 1980s, and early-1990s as settings also owes plenty to generational shifts in literary production as people write about formative periods and the years they remember. But it also avoids any number of narrative problems and allows writers to go on telling stories in the way they are used to, rather than incorporating the present in ways that are difficult and disruptive. When I recently wondered on Twitter — one of those very disruptions — if we’ve reached the point of needing a term for this kind of setting, author Jared Yates Sexton suggested “the nostalgic present.”
—Author, “Reader, I Muted Him: The Narrative Possibilities of Networked Life,” The Millions, March 19, 2015

Cruft* of the Week

algorithmocracy n. A government or state in which political discourse is dominated by algorithmically-curated social media feeds, particularly Facebook. [Brasil Wire]

“Poorly built, possibly over-complex; generally unpleasant” —The Jargon File.

Quick Links

Kibitzing chess players and editors

Language is open source

The Muddied Meaning of ‘Mindfulness’

Physically the new literally

Your Inevitable Robocar Future

Close Quote

When you think of what constitutes English, or French, or any other language, you probably think of books. You think of dictionaries, grammars, AUTHORITIES that tell you what the language is and isn’t.

But I’m here as a linguist to tell you that’s not what language is. Language is an open source project.
Gretchen McCulloch