Sunday, November 27, 2016

Terminology - OED WOTY!

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The Oxford English Dictionaries also select a WOTY (word of the year)!  And the votes are already tallied. The OED WOTY 2016 is… post-truth – a word which you might have recently seen flooding the media! In fact, according to OED researchers, usage of this word has  increased  approximately 2000% in 2015. 

Post-truth in 2016 has a quite different meaning from what one might expect. Post-truth selected as WOTY 2016 by the OED means “relating or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal beliefs”, in contrast to “post-truth meaning “after the truth.

Consider the following two examples:
(1)   'Pre-truth' far scarier than 'post-truth'. (Bangkok Post - Rithdee, 2016)
(2) "Of all the concerns facing a Madam President, governing in a post-truth environment may be the biggest challenge. Perhaps a third of American adults now believe a few Big Lies. And those Big Lies may be nearly impossible to dislodge, because in the course of this awful election, even fact-checking became suspect." (NYTimes – Egan, 2016)

The first example is the title of an article where pre-truth refers to a situation or state with no truth is sight, and post-truth refers to at least some involvement of truth, assuming a post-modern stance where there is not one truth, but many truths, and at least one truth has prevailed. The prefix post means "after". In the second example, the author is referring to governing in an environment where facts and truth no longer take precedence. The prefix post means "belonging to a time in which the specified concept has become unimportant or irrelevant".   

So indeed, post-truth in 2016 is actually the antonym of post-truth as in post-war ! In a post-truth 2016 US environment, for example: 
 “More than 70 percent of Trump’s statements have been rated false, mostly false or pants-on-fire lies by PolitiFact — nearly three times the falsity score of Hillary Clinton. And yet, Trump is considered more honest and trustworthy in some polls.” [NYTimes – Egan, 2016). 

So, post-truth is dangerous, isn’t it? And, of course, both Google and Facebook are blamed for spreading “fake news", in turn prompting their action against fake news sites. (WSJ - James Taranto - Interview; WSJ - Nicas & Seetharaman, 2016)

However, the OED’s choice of post-truth as WOTY 2016 was not without serious competition.  Competition for the OED WOTY 2016 title included such terms as brexiteer, Alt-right, Latinx and adulting, among others.

Brexiteer is used in reference to “anti-European Union advocates”. Alt-right (short for Alternative Right) refers to an ultra-conservative group in the United States with "far right ideologies who reject mainstream conservatism in the United States" (Wikipedia). Adulting, like parenting, refers to behaving as a responsible adult. And Latinx arises as a gender-neutral term for a person of Latin origin, instead of the terms Latina or Latino

Cheers for catching post-truth in 2016! It was spotted as Truth Lite in 2004 (Keyes, 2004)... but that was way before it really spiked! ðŸ‘ 

Egan, T. (Nov. 4, 2016) Post-truth Presidency - NYTimes
Holmes, R. (Nov. 16, 2016) Oxford Dictionaries names 'post-truth' word of the year
Keyes, R. (2004) The post-truth era: Dishonesty and deception in contemporary life. NY, NY: St. Martins Press
Nicas, J. and D. Seetharaman (Nov. 15, 2016) Google and Facebook take aim at fake news sites, Wall Street Journal
NPR (National Public Radio) Staff – What you need to know about the Alt-Right movement (Aug, 26, 2016) 
Oxford English Dictionaries - Word of the Year
Rithdee, K. (Nov. 19, 2016) Pre-truth far scarier than post-truth. Bangkok Post 
Sharockman , A. (Aug 16, 2016) The post-truth election? Comparing 2016 to past elections on the Truth-O-Meter, Politifact
WSJ - Wall Street Journal  (Nov. 22, 2016)  Fake news and fake scandals - James Taranto Interview
Wikipedia – Alt-right

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Adios Fidel

A revolution is not a bed of roses - Fidel Castro [1926-2016]

[Translation : Long Live Fidel Castro's Liberated Cuba]

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Terminology - ADS WOTY!

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Each year, for the past 26 years, the American Dialect Society (ADS), founded in 1889, elects the Word of The Year (WOTY, the acronym, for short…), which might perhaps be called the "Wotties". For, the WOTY reigns supreme among nine additional WOTY categories such as:  most useful WOTY, most creative WOTYmost unnecessary WOTY, most euphemistic WOTY, most outrageous WOTY, most likely to succeed WOTY, least likely to succeed WOTY, and the two most recent, 21st century WOTY categories, of most notable #hashtag and most notable emoji. As The New York Times has previously commented: “At the linguistic superbowl, may the best word win!" (Bennett, 2015)

On January 8, 2016, the ADS voted for the pronoun they as WOTY 2015, on the grounds that it is the best “gender-neutral, third-person singular pronoun". Apparently, this use is already quite common in British English, dating as far back as Chaucer, Shakespeare and Jane Austen, and otherwise has obtained quite a few accolades with The Washington Post Style Guide!  

Consider for example the following (from Wikipedia): 
The patient should be told at the outset how much they will be required to pay”. 
It has to be a better alternative to what Zimmer (WSJ - April 2015) calls the clunky use of “he/she”, or “s/he” or “he or she”. And, it has to be a definite improvement on using “he” stand-alone, considered sexist, as the generic singular third person pronoun (The Washington Post - Guo, 2015).

I suppose also that it solves the issue of not being able to use “it” in reference to a single person antecedent.  In any event, you will find more than one contemporary article on the topic of using they as a third-person, gender-neutral (and  gender-fluid) pronoun. 

The WOTY 2015 vote for they was selected from a pool of other words nominated in the WOTY categories such as: 
  •  ammosexual - the love of firearms in a fetishistic manner ; 
  •  berniementum - the momentum behind the candidacy of Bernie Sanders; 
  • CRISPR - gene-editing technology enabling to alter and control DNA sequences; 
  • hoverboard - a self-balancing and motorized skateboard; 
  • UBER for X - a pitch used by start-ups seeking to emulate Uber in various tech sectors",  
and such hashtags as:
  •  “#JesuisParis - an expression of solidarity with Paris after the terrorist attacks, or 
  • #StayWoke, an exhortation to stay vigilant and awake, used by the #BlackLivesMatter movement”.
In previous years the ADS actually introduced hashtags as a valid category of WOTY nomination, and selected #hashtag as the WOTY 2012, and #BlackLivesMatter as the WOTY 2014. 

The ADS has also previously selected app as the WOTY 2010, Occupy as the WOTY 2011, and because as the WOTY 2013.

Stay tuned to find out which word will be voted the WOTY 2016, when the ADS votes in Jan 2017! ðŸ‘ 

Mechanical Mosquito!... CRISPR?

 -     - ADS - American Dialect Society Word of the year (WOTY) list (since 1889!)
- ADS WOTY 2014 
      - Bennett, J. (Jan, 2015)- "At the Linguistic superbowl, may the best word win." In The New York Times, Jan. 16, 2015. 
- Guo, J. (Jan, 2015)  “Sorry grammar nerds. The singular “they”  has been declared WOTY”. In The Washington Post,  Jan 8 2015.
- Zimmer, B. (April, 2015) “They the singular pronoun gets popular”. In The Wall Street Journal, April 10,2015 – 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Oh, patents! Oh, emoji!

Copyright @ Françoise Herrmann

You might be wondering... What could possibly be patentable in an emoji?  

Emoji are the cutest pictograms. And graphics are more art, than an inventive solution to a technical problem with a potential for being useful, or manufactured commercially.

The answer is plenty!  A search for emoji patents at the EPO returned 19 patents.  A search for emoji patents at Google Patents returned 430 patents! 

But first, if emoji are to function as characters that can be selected on mobile devices (including phones, tablets and computers), they initially have to be encoded in the Unicode standard that supports all characters on the Internet, so that they might, in turn, become available as keyboard options via the various operating systems of mobile devices. And incidentally, the inclusion of an emoji in Unicode invokes an 18-month application process, and a vote of the Unicode Consortium. The Consortium has committed to adding about 70 emoji per year so that about half of the emoji proposals currently make the cut every year. (Burge, 2016; Hess, 2016)  

Next, once the emoji have been selected for encoding, it might conceivably be possible for an emoji to function as a “clickable" emoji, connected to web content, so that someone receiving an emoji could access the information connected to the emoji. Indeed, for this to be possible, someone would have to invent a way to provide a messaging environment where emoji could be "clickable", that is, where the emoji could be sent and received with content attached to them. Actually, in a nutshell, this is precisely the AR (Augmented Reality) type invention disclosed in WO2015163937A1, titled Clickable emoji.

Secondly, in another example for encoded emoji, it might be possible to make emoji searchable on the internet, assuming they could be tagged, aggregated and also used for tagging. In this case, a system would have to be invented to enable both emoji tagging and emoji searching on the Internet. This is precisely what the emoji 3.0 platform invention is about, and it is disclosed in US2016048492 (A1) titled Platform for internet-based graphical communication.

Sweet list of proposed food emoji for encoding in the next version of Unicode 10.
emoji core of approximately 722 emoji was encoded in Unicode 6.0  [Wikipedia]

And on a more linguistic note… It looks like the term “emoji” is being imported from Japanese into English with a plural “s” in print, whereas my spellchecker has definitely decided that the plural form should remain without an "s". Thus, the final  "i" of emoji looks like the sound of the Latin plural suffix "-ae", for example in "antennae" or "alumnae", although it is pronounced as an "ee" sound! :-)

Burge, j. (2016) Unicode 9 released with 72 new emojis
Emojicon 2016 - A celebration of all things emoji

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Oh, patents! People’s choice - 2016 INPI Innovation awards !

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Below is your chance to vote for your favorite five inventions, among a selection of 40 historical French inventions!  Just click, and validate your 5 selections…

Actually, this is not as easy as it sounds… considering the significance of the nominated inventions! You will be choosing among such transformative, and enduring, innovations as:  
  •  pressure cookers (la cocotte minute, invented in 1952)
  •  seamless hosiery (les collants DIM sans coutures, invented in1956)
  • "Rosi” skis (invented in 1942 by Abel Rossignol)
  •  Pleyel pianos (invented in 1844 by Ignace Pleyel)
  •  Michelin radial tires (invented in 1946)
  •  food mills (le moulin à légumes, invented in 1932 by the star inventor Jean Mantelet)
  • non-stick cooking pans (invented in 1955, and marketed under the brand name Tefal)
  •  the Eiffel Tower (invented by Gustave Eiffel, in 1884)
  •  parachutes (co-invented by a woman called Jeanne Geneviève Labrosse in 1802!)
  •  autonomous underwater diving suits (le scaphandre autonome invented in 1864)
  •  the “godillot” (shoes) (invented in 1862 by Alexis Godillot)
  •  tracing paper (invented in 1802 by Canson)
  •  shopping carts (le caddie, invented in 1957 by Raymond Joseph)
  •  airplanes (invented in 1890 by Clément Ader)
  •  high speed trains (le TGV, invented in 1981 by engineers at the SNCF)
... plus many more that you will surely recognize.

Do go ahead though, and try to choose, even if you might find it a bit difficult … Just perusing the list of historical nominees is immensely illuminating! It will also familiarize you with some of France’s greatest contributions to better, easier, more enjoyable and safer  lives.

The results of the People’s choice of five, all-time, favorite inventions will be posted along with the six INPI Innovation awards, conferred on December 14, 2016, on the occasion of the 25th Annual INPI Innovation awards ceremony.

Click here to vote, and to wander through France’s history of great inventions! ðŸ‘    

*INPI - Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle (France's national patent office)  
INPI People's Choice Awards - INPI Innovation

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Historic polling day!

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Yes, Nov 8, 2016 is indeed a historic polling day, with the first women ever to win the Democratic party nomination, and now one of five contenders for the United States Presidential Office.

Everyone is probably waiting to exhale... And noone wants to use the word historic... quite yet! But, no matter the outcome, it will always be a historic day for women. Just as it was a historic day in 1872, when Victoria Woodhull ran for President of the United States as leader of the Equal Rights Party. Only, that was before even the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution was voted to grant women the right to vote, on August 18, 1920   
Best of luck Madame Rodham Clinton! ðŸ‘ 
A very patented bottle of Veuve Cliquot is chilling in my fridge... one way or another!  And perhaps that the other question is whether it is definitively a or an historic day!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Feminist addendum to the glossary on the clinical trials of patented drugs

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Patents translation at NYU is designed, in part, to foster an acquisition of new terminology in the domain of patents and their textured contexts. Every week, participants research glossaries. Early in the course, participants research terminology related to patent structure and function, seeking to understand and acquire those terms through which such functions as those of disclosure are expressed. Everyone consults the MPEP (Manual of Patent Examining Procedures) at the USPTO, the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Title 37, and the FC (Federal Code) Title 35, seeking definitions of terms such as patent, patentability, obviousness, and expressions such as “characterized in that”. And, of course, everyone also collaboratively researches the significance of the patent alphabet soup, of all the abbreviations and acronyms, such as:  CFR, MPEP, FC, USPTO, INPI, WIPO, EPO and many more.  

In the weeks following the glossary work on the structure of patents, the focus shifts a bit, to more contextual issues surrounding patents, and particularly to what patents do in the world. In turn, the terms glossed also shift a bit, to items such as the Paris Convention, the PCT (the Patent Cooperation Treaty), the US Constitution Article 1, Section 8, and the EP (European Convention). The terms glossed, and researched, thus start to capture some of the long history of patents. And then again, the terms start to capture certain aspects of the politics of patents, when the lists of terms include such items as monopoly, access to medicine and medical technologies, and generics.  

Finally, when the focus shifts to more specific sorts of patents, such as pharmaceutical patents, the glossary work also follows suit. The patent glossaries then include such terms as FDA (Federal Drug Administration),, placebos and PK/PD (pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics). The glossaries for pharmaceutical patents even include such terms as CFR Title 21, Section 50 on the Protection of human subjects, consent forms and the IRBs (Institutional Review Boards).

However, these glossaries are necessarily very selective and incomplete. And so, it becomes wonderful when participants start to contribute by adding those terms and expressions that might be considered missing or forgotten. Beginning, this week, with a feminist addendum to the glossary on the clinical trials of patented drugs, the glossary work completes. It becomes enriched, more accurate and more encompassing of what really matters to the participants of the learning and teaching community.

In particular this week, the addendum captures the dark side of clinical testing, in Puerto Rico, in the 1930s and 1950s, prior to the international codification of the ethics of human experimentation. Thus, the glossary now includes such terms as: forced sterilization, the pill trials of Puerto Rico and psychosomatic effects
The appended terms were selected from an article written by Michelle Carroll, titled: The Dark History of the Birth Control Pill in Puerto Rico. And many more consonant terms might also be extracted and glossed, based on the award-winning book Medical Apartheid (Washington, 2006). 

Caroll, M. (2016) The Dark History of the Birth control Pill in Puerto Rico 
Washington, H. A. (2006) Medical Apartheid: the Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from colonial Times to the Present.  NY, NY: Anchor Books.