What Does Palinspeak Mean?

119/365 - dunce

‘It’s not quite Bushspeak, which, with the likes of “I know what it’s like to put food on my family,” was replete with flagrantly misplaced words with a frequency that made for guesses, not completely in jest, that he might suffer from a mild form of Wernicke’s aphasia, interfering with matching word shapes to meanings. (Bush the father wasn’t much better in this regard—there just wasn’t an internet to make collecting the slips and spreading them around so easy.)

Rather, Palin is given to meandering phraseology of a kind suggesting someone more commenting on impressions as they enter and leave her head rather than constructing insights about them. Or at least, insights that go beyond the bare-bones essentials of human cognition — an entity (i.e. something) and a predicate (i.e. something about it).

The easy score is to flag this speech style as a sign of moronism. But we have to be careful — there is a glass houses issue here. Before parsing Palinspeak we have to understand the worldwide difference between spoken and written language — and the fact that in highly literate societies, we tend to have idealized visions of how close our speech supposedly is to the written ideal.

Namely, linguists have shown that spoken utterances — even by educated people (that is, even you) — average seven to ten words. We speak in little packets. And the result is much baggier than we think of language as being, because we live under the artificial circumstance of engaging language so much on the page, artificially enshrined, embellished, and planned out. That’s something only about 200 languages out of 6000 have been subjected to in any real way, and widespread literacy is a human condition only a few centuries old in most places.’ (The New Republic)


Scientists Discover How to Turn Ordinary T-Shirts Into Body Armor

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‘…Scientists have developed a way of bulking up an ordinary T-shirt to create wearable armor. By splicing the carbon in the cotton with boron, the third hardest material on the planet, researchers at the University of South Carolina markedly increased the fabric’s toughness. The result is a lightweight shirt reinforced with boron carbide—the same material used to shield military tanks.’ (Ecouterre)

I don’t know why, but I want one of these.