Every now and then I mention something like “I hate pie charts” or “Ichabod’s Theory of Language” that really begs more explanation. The plan was never to leave you in the dark. The plan was to explain thing later when the explanation wouldn’t clog up the semi-narrative pseudo-flow of my normal blogging style. As the motto of the University of Rochester Roleplaying Team states, “Venimus, vidimus, etiam dictum purus” (We came, we saw, we’ll explain later).
So today I am going to explain Ichabod’s Theory of Language. By calling it Ichabod’s Theory of Language I don’t mean to claim that I invented it. It’s kind of obvious, so I expect some more eminent philosopher came up with it before me. In fact, I probably studied it when I was an undergraduate. I just mean to say that it is the theory I subscribe to.
Technically, my bachelor’s degree is in Cognitive Science with a minor in Religion. However, it sort of got overwhelmed when I had the chance to take a fifth year tuition free to study (more) linguistics. So it would really be more accurate to say I have a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics, with minors in Philosophy, Artificial Intelligence, and Religion. But no one ever accused my undergraduate university of accuracy.
Why do I mention this? This evening there was a post on Slashdot about an analysis of communication on online forum for hackers. One of the (inevitable) comments was that they were misusing the word “hacker.” A “hacker” (according to Slashdotters) is not a criminal programmer, he is a good programmer (I would use a more neutral pronoun, but the Slashdotters would use “he”). The correct word for a criminal programmer (according to Slashdotters) is “cracker.” That is, someone who cracks into systems. The Slashdotters would claim that their usage of “hacker” is more true to the original usage of the word. My understanding is that the original use of “hacker” was a bad programmer (someone who hacks away at a program until it works), but that is beside the point.