Five bits of languagey(ish) stuff from this week

This article from New Scientist is about a study that mapped the happiest and saddest places in New York by looking at the content of people’s tweets.  It would be nice to find out exactly how they went about linking emotions with word combinations, but I might have to dig further. I think I’m most interested in the longitudinal possibilities of this kinda data mining. They touch on in this article with an example of lots of negative tweets coming from a school where students had just returned from holiday. I imagine that as this week the schools start back there will be similar feelings! I actually started attending evening classes this week, but pretty sure my own facebook update would most definitely have been classed as positive: I am so excited to be learning something new!

Senate House Library is considering selling some of their Shakespeare folios. I automatically feel outrage at this kind of book sacrilege despite knowing that I should really save my outrage for more important issues. I can see their reasoning, but is this really the best way to get money? I hope that the media attention about this story might help.

Pencil sharpenings can be really beautiful; I remember as a child I used to try to keep my ‘perfect’ sharpenings, however they always fell apart. I guess part of their appeal is their fragility? I’ve just seen these rainbow pencils on Clossal and they are just so fun! Their designer Duncan Shotton has set up a Kickstarter campaign for them. This gif from his page makes me smile, however unfortunately it’s somehow triggered the ‘I can sing a rainbow’ tune to play in my head with ‘shave’ substituting ‘sing’. Oh dear.

Rainbow pencils by designer Duncan Shotton.

The Guardian’s list of some of the authors’ favourite words from The Edinburgh International Book Festival oddly doesn’t have any words that I’d consider anywhere near my favourites. I guess that the two best from here are Peter Hook’s choice of ‘confusion’ and Rick Gekoski’s ‘ambivalent’. Ian Rankin’s ‘fud’? No thanks.

This Ted talk by Al Vernacchio was posted in July, however watching it this evening made me smile after what’s been an incredibly long day. He proposes that the baseball metaphors used to describe sex are unhealthy and that pizza metaphors could be a great substitute in sex education. I can’t really imagine how this could actually be implemented, language doesn’t really work like that, but it is a fun watch!

Plus – O2 phone owners: there’s currently an offer of a free dictionary from WHSmith if you show your phone voucher from O2 Moments. Either the Collins English Dictionary or Oxford Popular School Dictionary. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they have some left when I go to pick one up! From my phone it looks as though the promotion will last until mid-September 2013 although they’ve written “until stocks last”.


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