Laugh and the World Laughs With You. Type ‘Ha,’ Not So Much.

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It was early in our courtship that I realized the guy I was dating, with whom I now cohabit, wasn’t laughing at my jokes. Well actually, he may have been laughing at my jokes, and in fact I thought he was laughing at my jokes, because he consistently responded with boisterous HAHAHAs to my humorous text messages.

It was flattering. Except when I made a joke that clearly wasn’t that funny — perhaps only worthy of a single ha — and suddenly it dawned on me that his typical HAHAHA reply (that’s three HAs, no spaces, all caps) was formulaic. Which could mean only one thing: This was not indicative of an actual measurement of laughter, but merely of the autocorrect function on his phone that had memorized a HA sequence. I was the idiot thinking I was hilarious and he was just sooo into me.

Take hahaha, which we’ll call basic laughter. It’s actually anything but basic, with the ability to shorten (haha), lengthen (hahahahahaha), capitalize (HAHAHA), punctuate (Ha!), elongate (Haaaaaaaaa), or replace with an “e” (hehe) — though, realtalk, The New Yorker may have called hehehe a “younger person’s e-laugh,” but ask any actual young person today and his or her response is likely to be “ew.” (Heh, however, is acceptable.)

Then of course there is LOL, for “laugh out loud,” which actually means the opposite, because nobody using LOL has actually laughed out loud since at least 2015. “It’s like saying ‘k,’” said Sharon Attia, a 22-year-old college senior, noting that a single ha is also pretty much the equivalent to giving someone your best resting bitch face.

Variations to LOL (or lol, as it may be) include the phonetic “lul,” or “the cool girl’s el-oh-el,” as Ms. Attia described it, which is “like a blase-inspired ‘lol’ — as if I am acknowledging that this is humorous but do you really have nothing better to do than text me about it?” There is also Lollerskates, lollercoaster, loltastic, words that are “fantastically creative,” as the linguist Gretchen McCulloch has written, but “ring vintage early 2000s.” Another expansion, she noted, is lolz or lulz — “but it’s more of a noun than an emotive response,” as in “so many lulz” (pronounced “lawlz”).

The Internet Tilde Perfectly Conveys Something We Don’t Have the Words to Explain

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The tilde, though, seems to have bypassed that problem. “If I say that your question is wonderful, you’re going to interpret it as the most common meaning,” explained linguist Michelle McSweeney, a researcher at Columbia University. “But if I say that it’s ~wonderful~, you understand that I don’t mean the boring, old meaning of wonderful.”

If there were such a thing as “visual onomatopoeia,” the tilde would definitely be it. The tilde looks like what it means — like it’s shrugging, or swaying in the breeze, like it sorta knows, ish.

Let’s All Stop Apologizing for the Delayed Response in Our Emails

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“Adulthood is emailing ‘sorry for the delayed response!’ back and forth until one of you dies,” writer Marissa Miller tweeted in February of last year… I was thinking about that tweet as I read an essay with an irresistible (to me) headline: “Do You Want to Be Known for Your Writing, or for Your Swift Email Responses?” Click. In the piece, which was published by the online literary magazine Catapult, author Melissa Febos writes about the many and varied ways our behavior around email is making our lives worse. The essay is wide-ranging, but what most captured my attention was this line: “Stop apologizing for taking a reasonable length of time to respond to an email.”

How many times did you write a version of that — “Sorry for the delayed response!” — just today? I’ve written it twice: One was in response to an email sent yesterday afternoon, the other in response to one sent two days ago. Febos wishes that I, and you, and all of us together, would kindly knock this off. “You are ruining it for the rest of us (and yourself) by reinforcing the increasingly accepted expectation of immediate response,” she writes. “A week seems like a perfectly reasonable length of time to take. Or longer.”

What Should We Make Of The ‘Tweetstorm’ Or ‘Thread,’ Or Whatever You Call It?

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“Threading” is the practice of repeatedly replying to your own tweets on Twitter, without mentioning yourself, in order to create a (usually rapid) series of tweets “threaded” together that can weave a longer narrative than 140 characters ever could. In her piece, Levinson defined manthreading as when men, usually obnoxious men, do it. “They are typically ‘intellectual’ dribblings from men who love Explaining Things To Me (essentially a subtype of Online Mansplaining),” she wrote.

Are threads changing the way we talk?

This is the strange thing about threads, and the good thing, depending on who you ask. They are their own art form. Threads and storms straddle a certain fence, existing somewhere in that space between spoken and written word, often fully punctuated, but just as often full of traits meant to mimic the way we sometimes speak (or yell), like all caps. Jeet Heer, another “manthreader” called out in Levinson’s story, says threading (and really all of Twitter), allows print language to move much closer to what he calls “orality.” For Gretchen McCulloch, an Internet linguist and podcast host, threads are “a new-ish kind of discourse style,” not as stylized as a speech or an essay, and not as fragmentary as a conversation. “They bridge the gap.”

And with that, we end with some tweet thread best practices, from Mignon Fogarty, the podcast host:

1) Take the first tweet very seriously. “The first tweet is the most important,” she says. “In my mind, the first tweet is kind of a combination between a headline and a lede. It has to grab your attention.”

2) Edit yourself. “Like all other writing, it should be as long as it needs to be,” she says, “but usually that’s shorter than the writer thinks.”

A Short Guide To Work Phone Calls For People Who Grew Up Texting

A Short Guide To Work Phone Calls For People Who Grew Up Texting

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From an evolution perspective, human communication is optimized for face-to-face interaction–in small groups and in real time. Conversations are a delicately choreographed dance in which speakers gather constant feedback from listeners, and vice versa, about whether their points are getting through. The nonverbal cues are just as valuable as the verbal ones, if not more so.

So a phone call is already a significant deviation away from that ideal situation, and a text message falls short even more. In fact, the further you get from unmediated face-time, the more likely it becomes that a conversation will go off track. Missing somebody’s tone of voice can make it harder to detect jokes and sarcasm, no matter how many emojis you throw in…

What hieroglyphics, emoji, and stickers have in common

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The oldest written language in the world didn’t have an alphabet. When written language began, it wasn’t used to ‘sound out’ words the way many writing systems do today; instead, each symbol represented a word (or occasionally part of a word). If that sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because speaking with pictures is a familiar concept — modern Chinese (hanzi) is a kind of logographic writing system, as is Japanese kanji. Younger readers, of course, may jump to an even more modern example of a logographic writing system — stickers.

There has been a lot of ink spilled about how stickers and emoji are bringing about the death of modern communication, but that draws an incorrect (and Western-biased, and frankly kind of racist) parallel: that language evolved from a logographic language (hieroglyphics, say) into an alphabetic language (English). In point of fact, English didn’t evolve from a logographic system at all; it’s a cousin, not a child. And Mandarin, whose billion active speakers make it the single most spoken language in the world, uses a syllable-based logographic language system.

Now, linguists may object to the classification of emoji as a logographic writing system.

 

Girl Uses Google Translate To Ask New Classmate To Sit With Her At Lunch

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Two elementary school students in California have proven that friendship can go beyond any language barrier.

One day at school, Amanda Moore noticed a classmate, Rafael Anaya, eating lunch alone. When she spoke to him, she noticed he didn’t speak much English. That’s when she decided she’d simply communicate with a note instead. According to CBS News, Amanda used Google Translate to write a letter in Spanish to Rafael and asked her mom, Kimber Kinard, to proofread it.