Upside-down Smiley Face


In June 2015, the Unicode Consortium blessed us with a handful of new emoji including a burrito ūüĆĮ ¬†and a cheese wedge ūüßÄ. Perhaps the most think-piecey new addition to Unicode 8.0 was the inclusion of various skin-tone options for the hand-gesture and people emoji, which¬†sparked many interesting conversations about who opts to use the various skin tones and why. Andrew McGill wrote a fascinating¬†piece in The Atlantic¬†earlier¬†this year that explores the question of why white people don’t use the white emoji.

With all this going on, it’s easy to see why I, and many people, overlooked the upside-down smiley face emoji at the time. I only realized ūüôÉ existed months after it became a part of my emoji options when a younger coworker IMed me what I interpreted to be the emoji equivalent¬†of the expression “Oh, well.” I googled¬†ūüôÉand I was hooked.

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Rob is a Thief’s Name

I’m currently watching season two of the webseries¬†The Outs. I watched¬†the first season¬†a few¬†years ago¬†with my friend Mike, and we both loved it. Anyway, I came across this semantic gem in season two, episode one.

In this scene, Mitchell tells Oona¬†about this guy he’s been seeing. Upon learning that his name is Rob, Oona¬†says she doesn’t trust him, which leads to the following exchange:

I think they both make great¬†points. Now I’ll be on the lookout for other first names that are also verbs.


Resting Bernie Face

I Always Have That Look on My Face

Fusion ran a story with an amazing headline this week: “A Visual History of Bernie Sanders’ Resting Bitch Face.”


This headline was sparked¬†by an interview with Bernie Sanders on Face the Nation. The host mentions that Sanders had a “stoic” look on his face when Hillary Clinton spoke at the DNC, and then asks him what was going through his mind at the time. Sanders replies:¬†“I always have that look on my face. You know, it’s nothing new. I’m not always a smiley kind of guy.”

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Delete Your Account

I was a sometimes listener to the podcast¬†Reply All¬†who has been converted to an always listener because of a recent episode called “Vampire Rules.”

At the end of each episode‚ÄĒor at least the ones I’ve listened to so far‚ÄĒthere’s a segment called Yes Yes No, where PJ Vogt¬†and Alex Goldman millennial-splain the internet to their boss Alex Blumberg. In this episode’s Yes Yes No, the following tweet is explained.

This imagined conversation is in reference to a real tweet that Hillary Clinton made about¬†Donald Trump. Trump tweeted ‚ÄúObama just endorsed Crooked Hillary. He wants four more years of Obama‚ÄĒbut nobody else does!‚ÄĚ And Clinton (or presumably her social media manager) responded¬†with “Delete your account.”

“Delete your account” is¬†a relatively common¬†response to someone saying something silly, stupid, or horrible on social media; it’s used sometimes jokingly and sometimes in earnest. Vogt and Goldman go on to explain that Clinton obviously wasn’t the one who¬†came up with¬†“Delete your account” because¬†she’s unlikely to be so fluent in social media slang:

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The Essence of the Gist

I’ve been watching and enjoying¬†Maria Bamford’s show¬†Lady Dynamite. It’s surreal and non-linear and has left me with more questions than answers, but it’s the sort of show¬†you more experience than understand. (I am not averse¬†to this type of show; I am a devotee¬†of¬†The Prisoner.)

One line, which happens to be related to language, made me laugh, so I thought I’d share it here. Maria is telling her friend about how this guy she met from “OkCubes” has an anger problem and shouts profanities (and shoots puppies who are about to cure cancer) when he’s frustrated.

Very little of this is likely true‚ÄĒwell, maybe the shouting part‚ÄĒbut Maria is looking for an excuse to not go out with this guy again. So when her friend questions the veracity of¬†her date’s¬†reported speech, Maria admits that¬†maybe that’s not exactly what happened, but “it was the essence of the gist of it.”

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Dictionary Playlist

A while back I made a dictionary playlist. The songs are linked in some way to lexicography or¬†linguistics. Some of the connections are tenuous‚ÄĒ”I Put A Spell on You” is a definite stretch. One of the songs is about peevery, but it¬†happens to have a grammatical error in the song title. Can you spot it? That¬†bothered me at first, but now I find it funny. It’s an amazing song, at any rate.



I periodically add to this list. If you have any suggestions for additional tracks, let me know. Hope you enjoy it!




Reduplication in Game of Thrones



Last night’s episode of¬†Game of Thrones was harrowing, to say the least.¬†However, amid all the darkness, I had a moment of levity as a linguist when Meera Reed uses¬†contrastive¬†focus reduplication¬†(sometimes also called lexical cloning or the double construction).

As¬†Meera¬†is packing up her things, she explains to Hodor what’s happening:

“We can go home now, Hodor. Well, maybe not home home, but somewhere that isn’t a cave.”

What’s Reduplication?

If you’re not already familiar with¬†reduplication,¬†here’s¬†quick linguistics lesson: in English (and other languages) sometimes words, parts of words, or phrases are repeated to create a novel¬†element of meaning. This element of meaning can range from an added connotation to an entirely different sense. I’ve written about reduplication for the blog if you’d like to read more about it.

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