17.283 words that catch on

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Tue Oct 07 2003 - 02:11:44 EDT

  • Next message: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty

                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 283.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                         Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

             Date: Tue, 07 Oct 2003 07:00:18 +0100
             From: Adrian Miles <adrian.miles@rmit.edu.au>
             Subject: Re: 17.276 queries and observations

    At 6:05 +0100 3/10/03, Alexandre Enkerli wrote:
    >This is something I keep coming across, especially on the Web. A specific
    >word used by one person starts to appear everywhere. The kind of word you
    >know but never use, you start using in conversation after reading or
    >hearing it. A fascinating phenomenon from many different points of view:
    >literary, cognitive, sociolinguistic, commercial...
    >Of course, I might notice it more because of the context but there's
    >something to be said about words suddenly gaining frequency. And this is
    >not just for catch-phrases and buzzwords. Even fairly neutral words may
    >look like they tie two articles or two conversations. And they can only
    >imply these two occurrences or spring into a meme-like epidemic propagation.
    >Anyone working on anything like this? There's bound to be a body of
    >literature on such subjects but what would be a quick summary of such

    They're known in some communities as memes,

    from memory (and it is an old one), Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary
    biologist (?) had or has a lot to say about memes.

    Adrian Miles


    + interactive desktop video researcher [http://hypertext.rmit.edu.au/vog/] + research blog [http://hypertext.rmit.edu.au/vog/vlog/] + hypertext rmit [http://hypertext.rmit.edu.au]

    [On memes see, for example, Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998), pp. 302-9; earlier, his The Selfish Gene (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1976; new edn with additional material, 1989). You may also find helpful Susan Blackmore, "Imitation and the Definition of Meme", http://jom-emit.cfpm.org/1998/vol2/blackmore_s.html. --WM]

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue Oct 07 2003 - 04:43:12 EDT