the style of speech

yodahomeFilme, Meinungen, movies, thoughts, viaLetterboxd0 Comments

I’m just doing some research for a project of mine where I’m going to make a website about hacker culture. There are indeed nice texts (in english) about that subject and I’m going to summarize the knowledge into a nice comprehensive set of web pages for one of my seminars. This is an excerpt from „The jargon file“:

mu: /moo/

The correct answer to the classic trick question “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”. Assuming that you have no wife or you have never beaten your wife, the answer “yes” is wrong because it implies that you used to beat your wife and then stopped, but “no” is worse because it suggests that you have one and are still beating her. According to various Discordians and Douglas Hofstadter the correct answer is usually “mu”, a Japanese word alleged to mean “Your question cannot be answered because it depends on incorrect assumptions”. Hackers tend to be sensitive to logical inadequacies in language, and many have adopted this suggestion with enthusiasm. The word ‘mu’ is actually from Chinese, meaning ‘nothing’; it is used in mainstream Japanese in that sense.

That’s just one of the many flaws in language-style I’ve come to think about lately. Especially for german language the two books from Bastian Sick have become very popular. We all should probably try more often to listen to what we say. Btw „the jargon file“ is a really neat place for anybody who considers himself to be close to hackerdom. Have a look!
I’ll probably continue this subject later…