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Speed of dissemination of new words

A discussion of word histories and origins.

Speed of dissemination of new words

Postby dsteve54 » Wed Oct 03, 2007 5:08 pm

I would be interested in knowing if there are studies on how rapidly a new word gets disseminated from its point of origin. Perhaps someone who studies network theory could point me to a spot.

Thanks.
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dissemination

Postby melissa » Wed Oct 10, 2007 1:40 am

Hmm a math question, and interesting. I would also like to know how word of mouth compares to print, radio, tv and fark. The speed is approaching c, and the nodes are approaching a few billion. Language change seems almost instantaneous now, to me, along with visual language. Lolcats and all. Memes are not so much in the OED yet but will be, I think. But I don't know of any studies of how it has changed over time.
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Postby bnjtokyo » Thu Oct 11, 2007 2:57 am

There is an article in Nature Online on a related topic that you might find interesting. Look at "How 'holp' became 'helped'" published on the Nature website on October 10.

There Lieberman et al. report that the "half-life of irregular verbs is proportional to the square root of their frequency"

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Postby Perry » Thu Oct 11, 2007 9:57 am

So perhaps if treated with Metamucil, their half-lfe could be proportional to the square of their frequency?


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Re: dissemination

Postby sluggo » Sun Oct 14, 2007 1:51 am

melissa wrote:I would also like to know how word of mouth compares to print, radio, tv and fark.


Fark? :?:
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dissemination hehe

Postby melissa » Tue Oct 16, 2007 3:35 am

Fark as an example of memes gone wild ...
but bnjtokyo, I must read that article. do they provide constants, as in English vs French? Or just imply that frequency of use is overpowered by the tendency of some languages to change or avoid change? Language is lethargic, but usually just wants to get along with the largest number of speakers, so Lieberman's idea makes sense.
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Re: dissemination hehe

Postby skinem » Tue Oct 16, 2007 6:02 pm

melissa wrote:Fark as an example of memes gone wild ...
but bnjtokyo, I must read that article. do they provide constants, as in English vs French? Or just imply that frequency of use is overpowered by the tendency of some languages to change or avoid change? Language is lethargic, but usually just wants to get along with the largest number of speakers, so Lieberman's idea makes sense.


Appreciate your posts, Melissa!
Would you expand on your comment that "language is lethargic"? (I've just always thought of it as dynamic, constantly and rather swiftly changing--but, that may just be my experience with English...)
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Postby sluggo » Tue Oct 16, 2007 6:59 pm

I'm still trying to suss fark :?:
Definition, anyone?
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Postby bnjtokyo » Wed Oct 17, 2007 12:08 am

Dear Sluggo,

The Wiktionary says
"Etymology
"1. Presumably a phonetic spelling of f*ck pronounced slowly.

"2. A "word to symbolize news that is really Not News" from the website fark.com and the book "It's Not News, It's Fark."

"Interjection
"fark

"(Australia, euphemism, vulgar) F*ck, as interjection of surprise, etc.

"Usage notes
"Only very slightly less offensive than f*ck itself."

[nb to avoid the profanity filter, I replaced "u" in the original with "*"]
I believe definition 2 is the one intended in Melissa's post.

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dissemination

Postby melissa » Wed Oct 31, 2007 9:22 pm

bnjtokyo, yes.


"2. A "word to symbolize news that is really Not News" from the website fark.com and the book "It's Not News, It's Fark."

yes, was just referring to dissemination of memes and the fact that it happens a little faster now, whether it is news or new...

fark can be an ugly word, if used wrongly, but here I only meant the way words can change in a positive way, as we really need a word to say that "news" is not information but well, fodder.
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and lethargic

Postby melissa » Wed Oct 31, 2007 9:35 pm

Skinem,
Yes my experience of English vs French is yes. Anglophones have been very creative, Francophones not so much. Why English is the lingua 'franca'? not so much. Probably more about global domination than lethargic vs energetic language change. But gotta love the fact that the common language at the moment doesn't have an 'academy'. It makes it easier.
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Postby Perry » Thu Nov 01, 2007 10:11 am

Israel does have an academy for coining new Hebrew words. In this case it makes sense, as the language was only revitalized in the last 100 years or so.
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Postby Bailey » Thu Nov 01, 2007 10:13 am

Perry wrote:So perhaps if treated with Metamucil, their half-lfe could be proportional to the square of their frequency?

Alright, alright. Don't shoot me. I can't help myself!


Ah Perry got it right to start.

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metamucil

Postby melissa » Fri Nov 02, 2007 11:27 pm

Yes Metamucil, possibly the most attractive brand name yet for etymologists.
But @perry, I agree that modern Hebrew needs an academy, but I doubt that modern French does. I still feel that English is the fastest and not necessarily because of politics but because of frequency of use, and disuse. The fact that English is being spoken on the tubes by many who do not speak it as a first language implies that it will change drastically in the future.
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