The Word Nerds: A Weekly Podcast About Words, Language, and Why We Say the Things We Do

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copyright © 2005, 2006 by Dave Shepherd, Howard Shepherd, and Howard Chang

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Two faithful and helpful listeners have corrected me (Dave) on a mistake of which I was aware as soon as I uploaded the last podcast.

The acronym LASER stands for light amplification through STIMULATED emission of radiation, not simulated. The emission is absolutely, totally real, not fake at all.

Well, I was de-acronymizing (??) right off the top of my head. Got most of it right, at least!

Oh, also, one of those faithful listeners pointed us to a Wikipedia article that explains the concept of aggregators very clearly (although we think our interviewee, Julie, did a pretty good job in the podcast, actually).

Category:general -- posted at: 5:18pm EDT

Musings from Howard Shepherd (North Carolina Nerd):

So I'm lying on my bed (in the historical present tense), resting and listening to the most recent Word Nerds podcast, and my mind starts wandering. I start thinking about revolutions in communication--from the invention of the alphabet and the development of writing, to the printing press, to the development of mass media such as radio and TV, and then to the internet.

And finally, to podcasting.

And that's when a word crosses my mind: 'samizdat.' I found myself remembering my summer of 1987 at Princeton, when I did an NEH seminar with John Fleming, then English department chairman. John Fleming had a hand-operated printing press in his house, and he and his wife had a little cottage industry. In a time when small publishers were consolidating willy-nilly, John represented an important movement in publishing: a trend toward very specialized, focused, small-scale publishing.

I realized that at a time of great electronic media consolidation (analogous to the print media consolidation of the 1980's), podcasting is filling the same kind of niche. We podcasters are an example of self-publishers that keep the world of ideas vibrant.

In other words, we are engaged in samizdat--a great Russian contraction from 'samo' (self) and 'izdatyel' (publishing).

Anyway, I thought the word 'samizdat' was both รก propos and interesting, and I thought I'd pass it on.

Category:general -- posted at: 5:30am EDT

In the last podcast, I neglected to mention (because of the timing of recording) that it was Victoria who clued me in on the term 'lost positives.' She also pointed me to a 51-year-old article in Time that talked about the same thing. I don't feel so bad about overlooking this concept, even with a graduate minor in linguistics from Vanderbilt, if one has to reach back 51 years to find a popular-journalism reference to this idea! Dave
Category:general -- posted at: 1:11pm EDT