Wrong: a modest trumpposal

Some­thing occurred to me late in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial race.[fn]I know, I’m sor­ry I kept this to myself.[/fn] Every­body was like “this guy lies and nev­er faces con­se­quences,” but was going about it in pret­ty much the least effec­tive way possible.

I’m sure folks who hold this opin­ion were well-meaning, but they seemed to be com­ing from a time where being caught lying is the worst thing a pub­lic offi­cial can do. Slimy politi­cians are sup­posed to, what, recoil with shame, mum­ble an apol­o­gy and exit the spotlight?

That’s obvi­ous­ly not the play­book now, and it should have been clear to any­one even a lit­tle awake in 2016. So can I just pro­pose some slick new lan­guage for describ­ing a case where a pub­lic state­ment does­n’t quite match up with reality?

You don’t call it “inac­cu­rate” or “unfac­tu­al.” We’re all very impressed that you went to college.

You don’t call it “lying” because that’s what 4D-chess-playing busi­ness­men do when they nego­ti­ate, I guess.

The word you’re look­ing for is “wrong.” They’re wrong, you say they’re wrong.

Wrong helps keep a record. It clas­si­fies the state­ment into a clear cat­e­go­ry, help­ing rein­force objec­tive real­i­ty in a time where it’s needed.

Wrong is, at the same time, a lit­tle soft and assumes the best inten­tions. Swing and a miss. Good hus­tle out there, lit­tle bud­dy — you can’t hit ’em all. 

Wrong is, most impor­tant­ly, uni­ver­sal. You could be a mid­dle school dropout and remem­ber the feel­ing from, I don’t know, mul­ti­pli­ca­tion tables or some­thing. Being wrong isn’t game-over, but each wrong stings a little.

At some point, if any­one’s actu­al­ly keep­ing score, con­sis­tent wrong­ness writ large in head­lines for years on end makes a case for mal­prac­tice. And who the fuck would tie up their iden­ti­ty sup­port­ing some­body who’s just so loud­ly and con­sis­tent­ly wrong, in pub­lic, all the time?

Derechos, am I right(s)?

Span­ish is a lan­guage I’ve stud­ied on and off through­out my life, but nev­er hard enough, it seems. See­ing a pam­phlet recent­ly, titled Declaración de los dere­chos, made me feel that way. The actu­al mean­ing (“dec­la­ra­tion of rights”) was easy enough for me to fig­ure out, but I was sur­prised when I real­ized that the Span­ish word for “rights” is dere­chos.

Whether or not you under­stand Span­ish, you may be won­der­ing why I found this so strange.

Well, a word in Span­ish I cer­tain­ly know is derecha (which means “right”… as in, the direc­tion that isn’t “left”) — it’s one of the first words any­one learns in Span­ish. And despite that word and dere­chos hav­ing dif­fer­ent gen­ders, it can’t be a coin­ci­dence that the two words are almost the same in both Eng­lish and Spanish.

What’s so weird about that? Why should­n’t these Eng­lish homo­phones be sim­i­lar in Spanish?

I’d explain it like this: I most­ly feel this way because of how it works with anoth­er pair of Span­ish words — in Eng­lish, the word free has dif­fer­ent mean­ings that each trans­late dif­fer­ent­ly. Most of the time we prob­a­bly think of it in the “cost­ing zero dol­lars” sense… but there’s also the arguably higher-minded def­i­n­i­tion “exist­ing with­out restric­tion.” In Span­ish, they’re two very dif­fer­ent words, the for­mer being gratis and the lat­ter being libre.

In the English-speaking world, I see the dif­fer­ence between the two “frees” most often come up in the Free Soft­ware[fn]You may also know this as “Open Source,” although there are folks who will tell you that they’re not the same thing. These folks have beards.[/fn] com­mu­ni­ty. When dis­cussing Free Soft­ware phi­los­o­phy, peo­ple will wax elo­quent about the dif­fer­ent mean­ings of free, using phras­es like “free as in beer” and “free as in free­dom” to help con­trast the two. They’ll also occa­sion­al­ly veer into expla­na­tions of Span­ish vocab­u­lary to high­light the dif­fer­ence, point­ing out that gratis and libre are more pre­cise ways to describe two kinds of soft­ware, both of which are “free,” but in sig­nif­i­cant­ly dif­fer­ent sens­es of the word.

With my mind steeped in this soft­ware salon cul­ture of the back-alley forums of the Inter­net, I became so keen­ly aware of the extra mean­ing words can pick up when trans­lat­ed into oth­er languages.

And that’s why I find it so hard to believe that, en Español, “rights” are sim­ply dere­chos. The trans­la­tion should be some­thing more abstract… more libre-like. I would­n’t have guessed that when trans­lat­ed, my rights become “not lefts.”

Can we just drop this?

If you’re not a rap­per pro­mot­ing your new album — and espe­cial­ly if you’re a non-rapper who works in mar­ket­ing — can you do us a favor and not use “drop” to mean “the date on which [my thing] is set to be released”?

I’m sor­ry you’ve cho­sen e‑mail spam or what­ev­er the fuck you do for a liv­ing, but talk­ing about the day your new cam­paign or what­ev­er “drops” does­n’t make you sound hip or hard or whatever.

There is one accept­able use out­side the rap game: are you a preg­nant woman dis­cussing the date your kid is due to be born? Then that’s… actu­al­ly total­ly cool.

Lil’ shorty drops Novem­ber 7th. Yeah.”
–Expec­tant mother

Toolbogged

Oh, hey guys — I just invent­ed a new word.

tool­bogged /ˈtulˌbɒgged/
(v. intr; past par­tici­ple of toolbog)

To become so con­sumed by the process of research­ing and select­ing gear (often soft­ware) for a giv­en task that one nev­er actu­al­ly com­pletes the task itself

I’ve been com­plete­ly tool­bogged try­ing to auto­mate fix­ing the date and time on hun­dreds of RAW files from vaca­tion last fall… that I nev­er even sort­ed the pics them­selves![fn]Based on a true sto­ry, sadly.[/fn]

This is cool. Slash get off my lawn.

Slash: Not Just a Punc­tu­a­tion Mark Anymore

Two weeks ago, one stu­dent brought up the word slash as an exam­ple of new slang, and it quick­ly became clear to me that many stu­dents are using slash in ways unfa­mil­iar to me.

(…)

6. I need to go home and write my essay slash take a nap.

(…)

12. JUST SAW ALEX! Slash I just chubbed on oat­meal raisin cook­ies at north quad and i miss you

via Boing­Bo­ing