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Any other word would smell as sweet

24 September, 2011

So… in playing around with some calculations and ideas that might coalesce into a preprint, I find myself wanting to coin some new terminology.

For sake of argument, suppose we have a concept called slithiness, and that people have been studying slithy widgets for some time and some length. Moreover, people have been modifying the adjective slithy with various adjectives or adverbs, so that there are now a proliferation of flavours of slithiness.

One of the oldest, or at least one with claims to the best pedigree, is weak slithiness. Anything slithy is weakly slithy, but there are examples which are weakly slithy yet not slithy.

Now: for technical reasons, I’m toying with the idea of a slightly strengthened version of weak slithiness (i.e. a slightly more restrictive condition). But what do I call it? At present, the only reasonable candidates I can think of are

1) “strongly weak slithiness” – which is ungood, and sounds like an attempt to make Eric Blair spin in his grave, once he’s finished from what Endemol did to him;

2) “weak slithiness with WCB” – which is clunkier, and also commits the sin identified by G. K. Pedersen as ASHCEFLC.

Any suggestions?

Some additional remarks are in order. If we go with option (1), then I do know there are widgets which are slithy but not “strongly weakly slithy”. I am not 100% sure if slithy widgets are always “strongly weakly slithy”, but suspect they are.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. 24 September, 2011 10:45 pm

    I consider this a big metaproblem in modern math. It is difficult, but if you can avoid “strongly weak”, “weakly strong”, “pseudo”, “semi”, “almost”, or any combination of them, and come up with something really meaningful instead, there ARE those of us who deeply appreciate the extra effort it takes!

    • 26 September, 2011 9:13 pm

      The “weakly” prefix is now so firmly attached that nothing can be done about it. However, I too would like to avoid piling That Greek Mountain on top of That Greek Mountain.

      (The precise names in that phrase escape me right now, and I’m currently feeling too lazy to look them up. I think one of them is Ossa and the other begins with P.)

  2. 25 September, 2011 4:46 am

    I think you ought to avoid “strongly weakly” at just about any cost. At least some readers (e.g. me) instinctively paraphrase “strongly X” as “really very X”. My brain seems intent on unpacking “strongly weakly slithy” as “(really very weakly) slithy” (a weaker condition than “weakly slithy”).

    • 26 September, 2011 9:18 pm

      Good point about “strong(ly)” modifying the adjective/adverb “weak(ly)” rather than the original concept. A similar headache arises when wanting to talk about the failure of something to be, say, weakly slithy. I have seen “non-weakly slithy” used, and from time to time find myself parsing it as “slithy in a non-weak sense” rather than the intended meaning of “not ‘weakly slithy'”, so in particular not even slithy.

      Don’t get me started on using some Famous French Guy’s Name as a modifier for slithiness, that’s probably a whole separate rant…

      • 27 September, 2011 4:47 am

        Oh it’s *that* “slithy*? I sympathise with you having to find another modify for that.

      • 27 September, 2011 9:12 am

        ugh, “modifier”. I fail typing forever

  3. 11 October, 2011 6:34 am

    Slight slithiness? Weakish slithiness? Or slightly weak slithiness? (I’ve been clearly affected by your choice of pseudonym for the dreaded property of widgets).

  4. vel nias permalink
    9 October, 2012 3:45 am

    Intermediately Slithy.

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