Thursday, May 27, 2010


Last year I wrote a few hundred words on the adjective thrifty for a book being put together by Workman Publishing Company. The book is now out. It's called Be Thrifty: How to Live Better with Less. They sent me a copy (for free!) and it looks like a fun book. Full of tips and hints for being smart with resources.

Given my grad student status, I'd say my real expertise is in the whole living "with less" part. But I'm happy to talk about words whenever asked. And if you're willing to pay me… please do.

Disclosure: I was paid up front for what I wrote, and I get nothing from the sales. Of course I still have an interest in making sure the folks at Workman are happy to work with me again if the opportunity arises.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Please vote

Vote the Top 100 Language Learning Blogs 2010

The Lexiophiles annual Top 100 list nominations have come out. I'm once again nominated in the "Language Learning" category. My showing last year was better than I expected. And if I make the cut this year, it'll be more than I deserve.

Posting has been light, but I'm encouraged by readers who write to tell me they anticipate my return to regular programming. I look forward to the same. Cheers, my friends.

Sunday, May 09, 2010


From the Chatroulette anonymous video-chat craze are born all varieties of rules and strategies that soon become recognizable when wasting 15 minutes (or 2 hours) on the site.

And of course some new words. My favorite: next v.

What do you do when you see something or someone on your screen that you know you don't want to keep seeing? You next them. There's a handy little 'button' at the top of the screen that shuts them off and gives the chamber another spin. It's a lot of power.

I had been thinking that "to next" simply meant to hit that little button at any point in the conversation. According to this amusing and informative video, to next is more specific than that: it's clicking the button immediately on seeing the other person. He even provides his own little definition card for the word.

1. to be rejected, denied, cold dissed
2. when a random stranger clicks the next button immediately after seeing what you look like.

I get nexted a lot.

Who knows if it's got the legs. A Google™ search brings up 35,500 raw hits for the -ed form, nexted. Nexting gets 121,000 hits, but from a greater variety of context, not all related to this use. Interestingly, the -ing form has another even more specialized use: nexting is an activity in which a group of friends gathers together to watch the Chatroulette screen together, to laugh and point at, or just have fun with the people they're connected with. There's a divergence here from the sense of turning away immediately. The "nexting parties" I've seen on there often engage with me. They like to make comments about my beard, and call me Kimbo. Or Kerry King.

Discourse is interesting on the site. The strategies for engaging and sizing up your "partner" are starting to reveal some patterns. Tests of verity and other feelers are common. Is this a real person I'm talking to? (There are several programs that make "fake" screen characters an issue.) Is this person a pervert? Is this person cool? Is he creepy? Is she freaky? It's a minefield on there and people have learned to do a lot of careful navigating thru it all. From the obvious opening line "Don't next me!" to the more inviting "before you go, can i ask you something?"

A word of caution: Chatroulette brings out the worst in people. Mostly in males. One reason nexting became so common and so necessary was the ubiquitousness of self-gratification. Ten minutes on that site makes me want to seriously reconsider shaking any guy's hand again. Because now I know exactly where they've been.

Update: Fritinancy has posted more commentary on next, with the important note that the verb isn't new to Chatroulette. She finds a definition dating back to 2004. Tho as she adds, that's "if Urban Dictionary's contributors are to be trusted." My advice: we should never trust them, but we can often believe them.

It makes perfect sense that this verb isn't brand spanking new. The word already works well in contexts apart from the website. This new, more specific meaning, can be the focused boost a word sometimes needs to be revived into a new, maybe different, life.