20 June 2010

McIntosh Apples

(Answering Jon)

Why is Macintosh called Macintosh?  Did Steve Jobs come up with that?  Ummmm... I don't know.
What even came first?  The Mac or the Apple?

Apple Computers, Inc. was established in 1976 (not until 2007 did they change the name to Apple Inc.) and the first computer Steves Jobs and Wozniak built was called the Apple I. 
Why Apple, though??  I'm still not sure.  Various answers float about the internet, such as:
  • (WikiAnswers) Steve gave his team members one day time to think about a good name of his company otherwise he will put the company name A for Apple.He got so many name at the end of the day but didn't like any one so he kept Apple.
  • In referenced to Sir Isaac Newton. 
  • In honor of the Beatles and their Apple Records.  I haven't read anything solid about this being true, although we do know that he is a big fan of the Beatles. He was quoted saying:
My model for business is The Beatles: They were four guys that kept each other's negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts. Great things in business are not done by one person, they are done by a team of people.
  • (According to Khya, a new manager at an Apple store) "because it was Steve Job's favoirte fruit, yo."  And later, "At least that's what Steve said when I texted him."
The first Macintosh was not introduced until 1984.  Jobs wanted to name it after his favorite apple, the McIntosh, but had to change the spelling to Macintosh because there was an audio equipment company already named McIntosh.

McIntosh apples are actually really common in North America, used for applesauce, cider and pies.  They're the ones that are red and green!  There are internet rumors that Jobs used to work in an apple orchard, but I highly doubt it.

09 June 2010

International Linguistic Olympiad

I was at the NAQT HSNCT two weekends ago in Chicago and Andw and I got to talking about linguistics with one of the teams.  They were really excited because they had recently started a Linguistics Olympiad team at their school. 

I had never heard of this, so I looked into it.  Looks like the North American Linguistic Olympiad is part of the International Linguistic Olympiad (ILO), which is in turn part of the International Science Olympiad, which is really neat.  I love languages because they're the perfect blend of math and art.  This makes so much sense.  I love it when things make sense.

Here's some info about how the Olympiad works (according to their Wiki article):

This olympiad furthers the field of mathematical, theoretical and descriptive linguistics. Like all science olympiads, its problems are translated and completed in several languages and as such must be written free of any native language constraints. In practice, this is often difficult and competitors may gain some advantage if they are familiar with one or more of the language groups which are the subject of some of the assignments. However, the most helpful ability is analytic and deductive thinking, as all solutions must include clear reasoning and justification (as in solving mathematical problems).

The individual contest consists of 5 problems which must be solved in 6 hours. The problems cover the main fields of theoretical, mathematical and applied linguistics – phonetics, morphology, semantics, etc.

Since the 2nd ILO, the team contest has consisted of one extremely difficult and time-consuming problem. Teams, which generally consist of 4 students, are given 3–4 hours to solve this problem.

ILO 5 (2007) was held in St. Petersburg, Russia. The five problems at the individual contest were in Braille, Movima, Georgian, Ndom, and correspondences between Turkish and Tatar. The team problem was in Hawaiian and focused on genealogical terms.

ILO 6 (2008) was held in Slantchev Bryag, Bulgaria. The five individual problems were in Micmac, Old Norse poetry (specificially, drottkvætt), Drehu and Cemuhî correspondences, Copainalá Zoque, and Inuktitut. The team problem was about correspondences between Mandarin and Cantonese using the fanqie system.

ILO 7 (2009) was held in Wrocław, Poland, from July 26 to July 30. The subject matter of the five individual problems covered: numerals in the Sulka language, Maninka and Bamana languages in the N'Ko and Latin scripts, traditional Burmese names and their relation with dates of birth, stress position in Old Indic and the relation between grammar and morphology in classical Nahuatl. The team problem was in Vietnamese.

I'm going to look for some sample questions/problems.  I'll post them here and attempt to work them out, with your help!

03 June 2010

How fast can a word become legit?

As I had mentioned before (here and here), I guess I had forgotten that *not* everyone reads xkcd. But THEY SHOULD!   http://www.xkcd.com/

Back in May, we saw this image:

To be clear: this Wikipedia page did not exist at the time, but it now does, and redirects to xkcd.  I mean, I heard some people created it right away when this xkcd was posted, but then Wiki deleted it.

What does it actually mean?
Actually malamanteau is a combination of two words malapropism and portmanteau.

  • Malapropism means to use a word in place of another word that makes the same sound, but doesn’t deliver an appropriate meaning, for example, odorous for odious, comprehended for apprehended and auspicious for suspicious and benefactors for malefactors. All these are malapropos of each other.
  • Portmanteau means to merge two words with each other in such a way that the sounds of the two words become merged as well as their meanings. In this case malamanteau is a portmanteau of portmanteau and malapropism, whereas malamanteau is also a malapropos of portmanteau.

I love that this little comic strip caused so much rukus! 
Within hours of its posting, malamanteau was already defined in http://www.wordnik.com/ and Urban Dictionary [although there, it’s “a word defined to infuriate Wikipedia editors”]. Time from the word’s debut in a comic strip to appearance in a dictionary: less than half a day.

Whether you consider malamanteau to be a real word or an elaborate joke, it is a classic example of the kind of word that people argue about when they argue about what makes a word real.

If we leave the circumstances of its birth aside, malamanteau already has a number of the qualities we associate with real words. It has a clearly defined meaning, and seems to be fairly useful (we all recognize the real-world phenomenon that it attempts to describe). It has been used, or at least looked up, by thousands of people. On May 12 it made the top 10 list on Google Trends.

Its comic-strip origins may cast a shadow on its credibility, but comics have given us a number of new words — brainiac, goon, and skunkworks were all either coined or popularized in comics.

So: Is malamanteau a “real” word? It may depend on what you consider real — does a word’s “realness” comes from its use, or from its pedigree? For some, malamanteau will only become real when it’s used, unconsciously, by someone who’s never heard of xkcd. Every old word was a new word once, and at some point “silly word prank” may yet turn into “etymology.” It’s possible that day will never come, but until then, I say, if it acts like a word, we might as well let it be one.