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Apparently the American Dialect Society's word of the year for 2005 is truthiness. I don't watch Comedy Central, but it comes from the "Cobert Report" on that program. According to the article in the Tribune, the show is a parody of smug and self-absorbed cable news commentators whose opinions aren't always based on fact. Colbert uses the word truthiness to describe the impression of truth not constrained by the facts. The American Dialect Society defines it as: "the quality of stating concepts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than the facts."

While not a pleasant word when all is said and done, I suppose it can be quite useful in certain occupations, such as maybe politics? Wink
 
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smug and self-absorbed cable news commentators whose opinions aren't always based on fact
From what I've seen of such persons they usually seem to have rather more than the normal complement of teeth. Perhaps the word is also a pun on "toothiness"? Big Grin


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The American Dialect Society's website notes that the word truthiness dates back to 1824. Indeed, I found this quote in the OED Online:
quote:
truthy, a.
rare or dial.
Characterized by truth; truthful, true. Hence truthiness, truthfulness, faithfulness.
c1800 J. H. COLLS Theodore I, You..are afraid Theodore your sweetheart shouldn't prove truthy. 1824 J. J. GURNEY in Braithwaite Mem. (1854) I. 242 Everyone who knows her is aware of her truthiness. 1848 Fraser's Mag. XXXVII. 404 Descriptions of country life and truthy touches of native manners. 1851 SIR F. PALGRAVE Norm. & Eng. I. 601 Regino was truthy and honest.

Tinman
 
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Well, the evolved definition, then, is the opposite of the original one, I see.
 
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In today's Bierma column he says, "The Associated Press' report on the ADS voting failed to credit host Stephen Colbert with the coinage, leading him to pretend to fume on air, 'I'm not mentioned, despite the fact truthiness is a word I pulled right out of my keister,' and accuse the AP reporter of a 'sleaz[y] piece of yellow journalism.' ..."

I know he was kidding and all, but this has been a word since the 1800s. Colbert just changed the definition.
 
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Reviving a thread...

Hmmm, according to Language Log it seems truthiness didn't actually make it into the MW Dictionary. I loved Colbert's comment, "Apparently the definazis over at Webster's don't know the meaning of the word 'word.'" Hee! Hee! I agree with the poster (Benjamin Zimmer) that it doesn't make sense to have the public vote on the word of the year.

BTW, when I was at a conference this weekend, one speaker said, "Do you know what MW's word of the year is?" I had remembered talking about it here, but I couldn't remember...though no one else knew either.
 
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We occasionally watch The Colbert Report. Colbert has a nightly feature called "Tonight's Word" in which he does a wandering, pun-filled and often hilarious commentary using the word, while taking pseudo-swipes at the enemies of the GW Bush Administration.

Colbert's screen persona is a parody of Bill O'Reilly, the bombastic, ultra-conservative, ultra -weird pundit on Fox News. I'm sure the people producing Colbert Report don't actually care who coined "truthiness." It's all about making Washington look foolish for repeated lies about Iraq, and about making Bill O'Reilly and his ilk look like buffoons.

WM
 
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We talked about truthiness way back in 2006, and haven't even mentioned it once in 2016, even though it (or its definition) has been in the news non-stop. Anyway, here is a NYT article (if you are a Trump supporter, you'd best not read it because it is definitely one-sided) about the Russian words for "Truth." Interestingly, they have two words for truth, according to this article. One is the normal meaning of "the real truth, the underlying, cosmic, unshakable truth of things," and that is istina. (I am thinking evolution - oh, wait! Not any more.) The other is what we are hearing lately (and, BTW, what the Soviet Communists call their party newspaper), and that is pravda. It means "the truth that seems evident on the surface. It's subjective and infinitely malleable..." I think we are hearing a lot of pravda these days. Roll Eyes
 
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Funny that the article sugests learning Russian. I've been trying to do just that, although not for political reasons. My little Russian/English dictionary doesn't even list the word, "Truth" other than as правда (pravda) It lists "correct," or "true" as верный (verniy). English uses words such as "veritable" from, I'm guessing, the same root.

Any book that explains propaganda will reveal how words can be manipulated and subverted.
 
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Originally posted by Kalleh:
One is the normal meaning of "the real truth, the underlying, cosmic, unshakable truth of things," and that is istina. (I am thinking evolution - oh, wait! Not any more.) The other is what we are hearing lately (and, BTW, what the Soviet Communists call their party newspaper), and that is pravda. It means "the truth that seems evident on the surface.


This dictionary says the opposite.

http://dictionary.cambridge.or...ussian/truth?q=Truth
 
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Any book that explains propaganda will reveal how words can be manipulated and subverted.

1984 by George Orwell.


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Originally posted by Proofreader:
quote:
Any book that explains propaganda will reveal how words can be manipulated and subverted.

1984 by George Orwell.


If 1984 explains how propaganda works then I'm fiddler crab. I don't see how replacing "bad" with "ungood" accomplishes anything. In fact I'd say that the kind of thought control via language that is described in 1984 is impossible.

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I was thinking more about "Ministry of Truth".


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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Several of George Lakoff's books fit the bill.
 
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This dictionary says the opposite.

I don't think it's the opposite, Goofy. For istina, it says just what the article says, "True fact; a fact or idea that people accept is true, such as moral or religious truths." A true fact would be the earth is round (not exactly round, but close enough!). The article said istina means the underlying, cosmic, unshakable truth of things, such as the earth is round. Now, maybe you are finding a softness in "that people accept is true, such as a moral or religious truth." Perhaps - though I think it is overwhelmed by the "true fact." A fact is a fact.

Now, as for pravda, you are right. They (and Google Translate) translate it as the real facts (again - facts) about a situation, or the truth.

All I can figure is that the use, in Russia, of these two words is different from how the Cambridge English Dictionary translates them. Or - perhaps the article is wrong. I am guessing the former, though.
 
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http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=29814

I trust Language Log. Like Liberman I am very sceptical of the claims in the article. It seems that pravda is the usual word and istina is the scholarly word.
 
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Well, clearly Liberman didn't know as he admits he isn't a Russian speaker and therefore asked his readers. There are some interesting (though sometimes rather biased) comments there. I tended toward the native Russian speakers and, for the most part, I think the NYT had the right take on the words. I agree, though, that it certainly isn't an absolute as there were disagreements.
 
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IMO you have to be very sceptical when you ask a native speaker anything about their language. Being a native speaker does not make you an expert. What is more helpful is someone who has studied the language and can provide evidence.
 
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Really? I am surprised to hear that from you, and I'd have to disagree with that. I believe the context and regional uses of language is more important, though I suppose if the literature reflects that accurately, you are right. Oftentimes, though, the literature does not reflect changes and language evolution in a timely manner.
 
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Kalleh, I'm afraid I don't know what you are talking about.

People believe all sorts of unusual or just plain wrong things about their native languages. Ask a random English speaker about the difference between "less" and "fewer" and they might tell you that "less trains" means the trains are smaller. Ask them about dialects and they might tell you that everyone understands "I didn't do nothing" to mean "I did something". Or that African American Vernacular English is illogical, corrupt, and only spoken by stupid people. Ask them about stranded prepositions and they might tell you that educated speakers never end sentences with prepositions. Ask them about singular "they" and they might tell you that they never heard it until yesterday and don't understand what it means.

Instead of asking a native speaker about what they think about their language, it's more useful imo to examine the evidence and see what it tells us. And I don't mean just literature, I mean spoken language and regional varieties as well.
 
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As a teacher trainer, I have to be with goofy on this. Among the teachers I have trained very few have had any real depth of understanding about how English, or language in general, works. Some know what the passive voice is, some don't. Some have never heard the term at all. Yet in speaking they all use it. Similarly I once worked with a teacher who asked me to explain the English tense system to him. He had been working as a professional teacher for several years and didn't know what a"tense" was. (In fairness when you consider tense/aspect/voice/mood it is way more complicated than saying "tense is how we say when something happens"... which is a description I've heard commonly from other teachers.)

As an aside, a long time ago when I was studying German a woman in my class asked, perfectly seriously, "Why does German have all these tenses when English doesn't?"

Being able to speak English doesn't mean that someone understands the underlying principles of how it works any more than being able to drive a car implies an understanding of how internal combustion works.
 
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Just weighing in to add a "me too" to the above posts by goofy and Bob.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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I feel a little ganged up on...

I think we are talking about different things. I think native speakers know the current (thus evolving) uses of words (the question never was about tenses or voice or mood, etc.) because they speak, hear and interpret them every day, whereas a linguist or academic may not be up on current uses. Sure, they will be in time. It might have bugged an academic, for example, when the definition of moot evolved from "arguable" to "not relevant," but the native speaker knew that the word evolved (rightly or wrongly, arnieWink). I am really arguing for descriptivism here.

However, I suspect your minds are made up on this and that's that. That's men for you. Roll Eyes

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Originally posted by Kalleh:
I think we are talking about different things. I think native speakers know the current (thus evolving) uses of words (the question never was about tenses or voice or mood, etc.) because they speak, hear and interpret them every day, whereas a linguist or academic may not be up on current uses.


That's a good point and I agree. But it doesn't change my point - just because someone uses a word a certain way doesn't mean they can explain that usage to you if you ask them.

Whether the question is about words or tenses the point is the same - don't trust what native speakers say about their language.

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Enlightening, Geoff, though I was only able to access the abstract. I'd love to read the whole article.

Goofy, please recall that in this case it was commenters responding to a Language Log post, where Liberman was not sure because he admitted he doesn't know much about the language. I cannot assume that of the commenters, the non-native speakers are more accurate than the native ones. In this context, I felt it reasonable that the native speakers would be more accurate. I just could not assume that the native speakers knew nothing about the language, while the non-native speakers were experts on language.

Beyond this small scenario from which this discussion arose, I agree with you. Native speakers versus linguists and others who study languages in most cases (not all, in my mind) are probably not as accurate.

And, to be honest, I am surprised at the discussion here where people leapt to your side. It all seemed pretty clear to me, in this context. I suspect people took this as a much broader concept, rather than what the dicussion was really about.
 
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Originally posted by Kalleh:

Goofy, please recall that in this case it was commenters responding to a Language Log post, where Liberman was not sure because he admitted he doesn't know much about the language.


He doesn't know much about the language, so he appealed to people who do know the language. Whether they are native speakers or not is not necessarily important IMO.
quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
I just could not assume that the native speakers knew nothing about the language, while the non-native speakers were experts on language.

That would be a weird thing to assume. I was not assuming it either.
 
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Yes, it was an hyperbole, I admit.
 
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Not really related, except they talk about "native speakers," but this is an interesting video about 4 polyglots learning Romanian in one hour.
 
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