Terminology Thread (or "name that pattern")

by sixes_and_sevens 1 min read3rd Jul 201451 comments


I think there's widespread assent on LW that the sequences were pretty awesome. Not only do they elucidate upon a lot of useful concepts, but they provide useful shorthand terms for those concepts which help in thinking and talking about them. When I see a word or phrase in a sentence which, rather than doing any semantic work, simply evokes a positive association to the reader, I have the useful handle of "applause light" for it. I don't have to think "oh, there's one of those...you know...things where a word isn't doing any semantic work but just evokes a positive association the reader". This is a common enough pattern that having the term "applause light" is tremendously convenient.

I would like this thread to be a location where people propose such patterns in comments, and respondents determine (a) whether this pattern actually exists and / or is useful; (b) whether there is already a term or sufficiently-related concept that adequately describes it; and (c) what a useful / pragmatic / catchy term might be for it, if none exists already.

I would like to propose some rules suggested formatting to make this go more smoothly.

(ETA: feel free to ignore this and post however you like, though)

When proposing a pattern, include a description of the general case as well as at least one motivating example. This is useful for establishing what you think the general pattern is, and why you think it matters. For instance:

General Case:

When someone uses a term without any thought to what that term means in context, but to elicit a positive association in their audience.

Motivating Example:

I was at a conference where someone said AI development should be "more democratic". I didn't understand what they meant in context, and upon quizzing them, it turned out that they didn't either. It seems to me that they just used the word "democratic" as decoration to make the audience attach positive feelings to what they were saying.

When I think about it, this seems like quite a common rhetorical device.

When responding to a pattern, please specify whether your response is:

(a) wrangling with the definition, usefulness or existence of the pattern

(b) making a claim that a term or sufficiently-related concept exists that adequately describes it

(c) suggesting a completely fresh, hitherto-uncoined name for it

(d) other

(ETA: or don't, of you don't want to)

Obviously, upvote suggestions that you think are worthy. If this post takes off, I may do a follow-up with the most upvoted suggestions.