Meh. It's not Shakespeare.

From the people who brought you "D'Oh!", we now have "Meh" from The Simpsons entering our dictionary. So what do you think? Ought this word be a word in the dictionary? What does it mean for a word to be in the dictionary—to be ‘official' and recognized in the first place? Ought anyone even care what is placed in or left out? Your decision on this matter ought not sink to the level of meh

Palin v. Biden: Rumble in the Lipstick Jungle

We want our politicians to be honest, but politicians know that we're generally impatient consumers and so over time they have becomes what they are—some of the best parsers of language. When you listen to a politician, it is less about what they say as what they fail to say, or even think they need to say out loud. Political discourse is a ‘marked' language....

Did Usain Bolt have a Phelpsian Olympics or Phelps a Boltian?

As the Olympics have drawn to a close, we might well ask with Juliet, “What’s in a name?” What people will likely remember from the Olympics are two singular athletic performances, that of swimmer Michael Phelps and runner Usain Bolt. So, did Usain Bolt have a Phelpsian Olympics or Phelps a Boltian? The potential words Phelpsian and Boltian are examples of eponyms (a linguistic and literary device in which a person’s name can come to symbolize, refer to, or otherwise lend itself to a quality or item.

I finally got to be a homunculus part II.

What is remarkable about the homunculus is that to understand ourselves better we have resorted to inventing a copy of ourselves inside ourselves. So how did I get to be a homunculus, and what did I learn? Interestingly, I shrank myself—in a way—and started thinking about how we have come to invent ourselves outside of ourselves as well as inside.

I finally got to be a homunculus part I.

Some children hope to grow up to be firemen, policemen, or astronauts. Some believe that being a pirate will be an acceptable vocation given a shift in global markets. Others altogether see a future in pinball wizardry. And then still others grow up and realize they can become homunculi.

Race, language, black holes

The subtitle to my Psychology Today blog is “What our language reveals about how we think and who we are”. Today's topic: Is the term "black hole" racist?

When AT&T asked us to ‘Reach out and touch someone’, did they mean that literally?

In the 80s, AT&T urged people—metaphorically—to ‘reach out and touch someone’ with their telephone service. (A literal suggestion to do so would have been baffling and possibly criminal.) So what did this metaphor of contact evoke exactly, and why was it so effective a tag-line? Telephones have always defied the distances society has created through migration, colonization, and urbanization—a magic that can now seem ordinary....

Metaphor, metaphor! Wherefore art thou, Metaphor?

Historically, metaphors and figurative language have been ignored as a serious topic of study in psychology and philosophy, exiled to the land of rhetoricians or literary analysts. But it seems wrong to ignore the poetic when you find it.