Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, October 19, 2021

Why has the Internet-trendy term “fail” gotten so popular of late?

Apparently, because it’s easier to say than schadenfreude. Oh, and because of the recent economic meltdown:

It’s no wonder, then, that the fail meme gained wider currency with the advent of the financial crisis. Some observers relished watching wealthier-than-God investment bankers get their comeuppance. It helped that the two events occurred at the same time—Google searches for fail surged in early 2008, around the same time the mortgage crisis started to pick up steam. And the ubiquity of phrases like “failed mortgages” and “bank failures” seemed to echo the popular meme, which may have helped usher the term out of 4chan boards and onto blogs. It’s rare that an Internet fad finds such a suitable mainstream vehicle for its dissemination. It’s as if LOLcats coincided with a global outbreak of some feline adorability virus. The financial crisis also fits neatly into the Internet’s tendency toward overstatement. (Worst. Subprime mortgage crisis. Ever.) Only this time, it’s not an exaggeration.

And to dispel the notion that this interjection is but a passing fad: “Fail’s” abbreviative derivation and brevity put it in line with other English-language word origins:

Most Internet memes have the lifespan of fruit flies. But there’s evidence to suggest fail is here to stay. For one thing, it’s easier to say than failure. (Need for brevity might explain why, in Webspeak, the opposite of fail is not success but win.) And there’s a proud tradition in English of chopping off the endings of words for convenience. Between Old and Middle English, many nouns stopped being declined, says Anatoly Liberman, an etymologist at the University of Minnesota. Likewise, while Romance languages still conjugate their verbs, English keeps it relatively simple: I speak, you speak, we speak, etc. It’s also common for verbs to become nouns, Liberman points out. You can lock a door, but it also has a lock. You can bike, but you can also own a bike. There was great fuss a century ago among readers of the British magazine Notes and Queries when it used the word meet to refer to a sporting event. It’s not surprising that failure would eventually spawn fail.

If it roots itself into the mainstream, so be it. For now, I eschew it because, to echo these sentiments, it just comes off as pretentious and annoying to me. And I hardly need any additional help to achieve that sort of attitude.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/19/2008 05:21:16 PM
Category: Internet, Pop Culture, Society, Wordsmithing
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Former German women’s professional soccer player Eva Roob decided to quit the sport to become a full-time pornstar named Samira Summer, and the jokes just seem to write themselves.

But for all the talk of (ahem) “the box” and such, the best soccer-related joke on the Eva/Samira name-change has to be this one, which I’m paraphrasing for clarity:

Why didn’t she call herself “Pay-Lay”?

I’m sure Pele himself would have approved.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/19/2008 04:27:15 PM
Category: Other Sports, Women, Wordsmithing
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We see more of the private side of Howard Stern by learning that he’s a chess enthusiast.

I didn’t realize that the domain of the “King of All Media” included the chessboard.

Stern is newly married, so remember this tidbit for when the divorce proceedings inevitably arrive in a few years:

Stern said he admired top players and often went to the Internet Chess Club site to follow the live analysis of big tournament games. His bride, he said, does not share his interest. Recently, while he was following the commentary of Larry Christiansen, an American grandmaster, [wife Beth] Ostrosky walked in. “She was, like, ‘Oh my God, how dull.’ I’m, like, ‘Dull? No, this guy is brilliant.’ ”

If Stern wants brilliance, he should spend time on the Wu-Tang Clan’s WuChess website. Perfect discussion topic for the next time RZA visits the studio.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/19/2008 12:41:32 PM
Category: Celebrity, Radio
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