Sciency Words: Covidiot

Hello, friends, and welcome to Sciency Words!  Sciency Words is a special series here on Planet Pailly where we take a closer look at science or science-related terminology.  Today’s Sciency Word is:

COVIDIOT

As you might imagine based on this Sciency Words series, as well as other things I’ve written, I love language.  I enjoy learning about why language works, why it sometimes does not work, and all the processes by which language changes over time.

One of my favorite linguists is Anne Curzan of the University of Michigan.  She’s written books and articles about language.  She hosts a radio show about language, and she’s a member of the American Heritage Dictionary’s usage panel.  She did a wonderful TED Talk called “What Makes a Word ‘Real’?” and her Great Courses series “The Secret Life of Words” is one of my favorite things to listen to on long drives.

Curzan often talks about how people like to play with language.  Some might dismiss such playfulness as slang, but really it’s a natural aspect of language usage.  And so when a friend recently introduced me to the word “covidiot,” I immediately thought of the things Curzan has said.  Here are people being playful with a scientific term, and I love that!

Now normally in these Sciency Words posts, I’d tell you the definition and etymology of the term we’re talking about.  I don’t think that’s necessary in this case.  It’s pretty obvious what “covidiot” means and where the word came from.  The only thing I want to say about covidiots is this: please don’t be one.

Next time on Planet Pailly, I’ll have a very strange weather forecast for you.

IWSG: Meet Professor Curzan

InsecureWritersSupportGroupToday’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. It’s a way for insecure writers like myself give each other advice and encouragement. Click here to see a full list of participating blogs.

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A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I have been studying linguistic science as a way to improve my writing. Linguistic science is the study of language not as we think it ought to be (that’s the job of grammarians) but the way it actually is. For today’s IWSG post, I thought I’d introduce everyone to one of my favorite teachers of linguistics, Professor Anne Curzan.

Now I don’t want to hold you up on IWSG day with a 17-minute video. We all have a lot of reading and commenting to do today, so feel free to move on and come back to this later. But I promise you what Professor Curzan has to say is worth hearing, and I encourage you to look for her other lecture videos elsewhere online.