Status: fun to write, very derivative, ambivalent about content.

This post responds to Why and How to Name Things.

In the evolution of language, new words are constantly produced, bubbling in and out of primordial concept-space like quantum foam. Most of them are awkward, unevocative, and noncentral, falling out of fashion faster than you can say “Planck time.” A few gems cut out unexplored territory and grow in popularity until they take their rightful place in the common parlance. As they do so, however, they fall prey to concept creep, being diluted to incorporate such a plethora of valences as to become useless. Essential words like “love” have been dragged through the mud or mouthed insincerely so often that it feels affected to even utter them.

As old concept handles die or creep, a constant creative drive is required into invent new words for old and new phenomena. This places a heavy burden on writer and reader alike. Improper names are like programmer debt – let a weak name stick early on and you’ll pay for it your whole life.

This babble outlines the shape of this problem and what we might do about it.

First, I argue that as far as names go, only length matters. Shorter words are exponentially more important. I call this the Inverse Teenage Boy Model (ITBM) of Names.

Having built an ITBM, we need a nuclear weapon for it to deliver. I propose a new usage of the word syllable: a verb, meaning “to rename with fewer syllables.” I give examples of savvy syllabling in math, computer science, and rationality, and try to syllable some names I hate.

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