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Which words do you own?–kuipercliff March 23, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in Blogs and Blogging, linguistics, Other, vocabulary, writing.

[Note: This is part of a continuing series on the actual vocabulary in use in the blogosphere.  Posts on this subject started here and continue even as I type this word.]

I wasn’t familiar with kuipercliff‘s blog until he asked to be the next subject in this series on the vocabulary of the blogosphere.  Since that time I have begun to read it.  There are some very interesting posts there.  Much of the blogosphere, I think, is more like kuipercliff’s blog than it is like the other blogs included thus far in my database.  What I mean is that his blog is centered, topically, on information technology to a much larger extent than others I have examined.  Even so, it covers a wide range of other subjects and uses an astonishing variety of words, 1,741 of which nobody had yet used.

The inclusion of Mr. Kuipercliff’s words also presented more quandries than I would have liked to deal with.  I decided to allow the word commodification, even though it was not considered a word by either MS Word’s dictionary or the no-longer final authority on these matters–Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary (unabridged, 1943).  Up until I started this project I usually employed this bulky tome (see pic below–click to enlarge) for pressing four-leaf clovers and certain paper-folding projects.  It will now go back to that function.  Commodification is just the sort of Marxian term that lexicologists were uncomfortable with in 1943.  Sure, it’s jargon.  I don’t care.  To Webster’s credit, it supported me, supported kuipercliff, on whinging–which did make the cut. 


I didn’t allow disinhibition, which is, I suspect, also jargon, or at least a double-negative.  I have been studying neural networks recently and have found no need for such a word, or at least no instance in which it could not have been replaced by excitation or stimulation or some other reasonably well-worn word.  I’m willing to listen to reason, though, if somebody thinks that it should make the cut. 

For a couple of other words I consulted the new final authority on such matters, my wife, an English professor.  She didn’t see a problem with amygdala or neocortex (which were in kuipercliff’s sample), or even xiphoid, maxillary, hyoidal or other odd anatomical terms I threw at her to make my point about why these things should be excluded.  So, from now on, anatomical terms are fair game. 

Foreign languages are still out, however, unless they are the sort of foreign languages that are part of a long list of anatomical terms.   In other words, everyday Latin terms, like redux, are out.

Here’s a cloud made up of the words that, thus far, only kuipercliff has used.  I was only able to include the ones that he used four or more times because he used so many words that others had not (click to enlarge).


And here is a Venn diagram showing the words that only kuipercliff used, the words that he shared with everybody else, and the ones that others used but that he did not.


Next up: Moon Topples


1. kuipercliff - March 23, 2007

Wow, fascinating. It’s a strange experience to see one’s own writing pulled apart like that, but a very, very interesting one. Thanks for taking the time to do this. As with so many other things in life, it’s the things that are absent that often mean more than those which are present. The absence of a word like “home” is therefore not really surprising to me – I don’t have one, and live out of a bag.

It’s also intriguing that you view my blog as an IT blog, and therefore representative of the broader blogosphere. Most reactions to KuiperCliff suggest that it is not representative of the wider community of techie blogs. I actually have very little interest in the geeky minutiae of computers and the internet, but a great deal of interest in the significance of the technology. If this is not coming across, then I am obviously doing something wrong!

Regardless, I’m glad you used KuiperCliff as a test subject. Sorry it was such a slog! People shouldn’t blog unless they’re prepared to be scrutinised at a variety of levels. Your research is one such level, and unique, as far as I know.

And yes, disinhibition is jargon. Unfortunately, it’s published jargon, but still a fairly nasty word. I borrowed it from John Suler.

2. KuiperCliff analysed « KuiperCliff - March 24, 2007

[…] internet — kuipercliff @ 07:09 Mr Cave Blogem at Pretty Good on Paper has finished his analysis of this blog’s use of language, and interesting stuff it is too. It seems I’m churning out a few words that other test […]

3. caveblogem - March 24, 2007


I’m terribly sorry. I must have come off like a jerk in my post about your blog. I’ve had kind of a tough week. Tuesday night I tore my medial gastrocnemius playing tennis and have to wear this huge brace thing to be able to walk without screaming pain.

Working on your blog was not a “slog” at all. It was quite interesting. And that there were problems presented by the inclusions of words (theremin: it’s an instrument named after its inventor. Does that make it a word or a proper noun?) is a positive thing for me. Without problems to solve, the life of a researcher would be pretty boring indeed.

And I didn’t mean to suggest that yours is a run-of-the-mill techie blog, or that it is centered on IT. It is just more so than the other blogs sampled thus far: a political blog, a couple of personal blogs, a blog that most often deals with literature and philosophy, one that centers on current events and the Cthulhu Mythos, etc. I find the issues you examine on your blog, and the way you examine them, quite interesting. That’s why you are on my blogroll.

As to disinhibition. Maybe it’s all those “i”s staring at me.

4. kuipercliff - March 24, 2007

Not a jerk at all. Quite the opposite! Sorry to hear about the accident btw – sounds painful. I take it that ‘gastrocnemius’ is allowed?

I was once quoted in a British newspaper as “musing” over an issue – that’s what I was doing here. Mind you, it was first thing in the morning – I’m not always at my most clear-headed… I didn’t for a second think you’re were accusing me of being run-of-the-mill – it wouldn’t bother me if you had either. The experiment is about word-use, not personal tastes, although I’m glad you like my blog.

Did you include ‘theremin’ in the end? What’s the word for a proper noun that becomes a noun? We would allow ‘sandwich’, but not ‘Nissen’ hut, I expect. As for ‘disinhibition’, yowzer, Google has a lot of hits for it. By that token, we’d allow ‘pwnd’ too. I agree, too many ‘i’s.

5. kuipercliff - March 24, 2007

Damn Egyptian “broaderband”. Feel free to delete one of those duplicates. Sorry.

6. caveblogem - March 24, 2007


Yeah, gastrocnemius would be allowed. So would spheniform, come to think of it–wasn’t that one of your favorites? I was a little disappointed that none of my posts included my all-time personal favorite, spatchcock. It’ll make it in sooner or later, though.

I deleted one of your accidentally duplicated comments but left the one that curses your isp.

I included theremin, but I don’t know if there is a collective word for such nouns. I don’t know when it is finally acceptable to consider them just regular nouns, either. I include “google,” in the database, but only when used as a verb. I can’t see the word ever becoming such a noun, unless they manage to become the only search engine, or something. I never thought much about this stuff before about two weeks ago. Consequently, the whole project is pretty idiosyncratic. But, as with most statistical research, the important considerations have to do consistency, rather than logic aforethought.

7. Kaitlyn - March 26, 2007

this is a general comment–did you see the paper folding piece in the latest new yorker? i thought of you!

8. caveblogem - March 26, 2007


I didn’t. Funny, I know I got the issue. I have been too busy to read any articles, but I always leaf through it and look at the comics. You’d think I would have noticed the paperfolding piece at least. Thanks for thinking of me!

9. Top 20 Ubiwords « ubiwar.com - June 5, 2008

[…] year, a similar test by a fellow blogger revealed a correspondent obsession with information technology, and it appears […]

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