Other Lexicon Conventions

[prev][up][next]

Other Lexicon Conventions

Entries are sorted in case-blind ASCII collation order (rather than the letter-by-letter order ignoring interword spacing common in mainstream dictionaries), except that all entries beginning with nonalphabetic characters are sorted after Z. The case-blindness is a feature, not a bug.

The beginning of each entry is marked by a colon (`:') at the left margin. This convention helps out tools like hypertext browsers that benefit from knowing where entry boundaries are, but aren't as context-sensitive as humans.

In pure ASCII renderings of the Jargon File, you will see {} used to bracket words which themselves have entries in the File. This isn't done all the time for every such word, but it is done everywhere that a reminder seems useful that the term has a jargon meaning and one might wish to refer to its entry.

In this all-ASCII version, headwords for topic entries are distinguished from those for ordinary entries by being followed by "::" rather than ":"; similarly, references are surrounded by "{{" and"}}" rather than "{" and "}".

Defining instances of terms and phrases appear in `slanted type'. A defining instance is one which occurs near to or as part of an explanation of it.

Prefixed ** is used as linguists do; to mark examples of incorrect usage.

We follow the `logical' quoting convention described in the Writing Style section above. In addition, we reserve double quotes for actual excerpts of text or (sometimes invented) speech. Scare quotes (which mark a word being used in a nonstandard way), and philosopher's quotes (which turn an utterance into the string of letters or words that name it) are both rendered with single quotes.

References such as `malloc(3)' and `patch(1)' are to Unix facilities (some of which, such as `patch(1)', are actually freeware distributed over Usenet). The Unix manuals use `foo(n)' to refer to item foo in section (n) of the manual, where n=1 is utilities, n=2 is system calls, n=3 is C library routines, n=6 is games, and n=8 (where present) is system administration utilities. Sections 4, 5, and 7 of the manuals have changed roles frequently and in any case are not referred to in any of the entries.

Various abbreviations used frequently in the lexicon are summarized here:

    abbrev.
	 abbreviation
    adj.
	 adjective
    adv.
	 adverb
    alt.
	 alternate
    cav.
	 caveat
    conj.
	 conjunction
    esp.
	 especially
    excl.
	 exclamation
    imp.
	 imperative
    interj.
	 interjection
    n.
	 noun
    obs.
	 obsolete
    pl.
	 plural
    poss.
	 possibly
    pref.
	 prefix
    prob.
	 probably
    prov.
	 proverbial
    quant.
	 quantifier
    suff.
	 suffix
    syn.
	 synonym (or synonymous with)
    v.
	 verb (may be transitive or intransitive)
    var.
	 variant
    vi.
	 intransitive verb
    vt.
	 transitive verb
Where alternate spellings or pronunciations are given, alt. separates two possibilities with nearly equal distribution, while var. prefixes one that is markedly less common than the primary.

Where a term can be attributed to a particular subculture or is known to have originated there, we have tried to so indicate. Here is a list of abbreviations used in etymologies:

    Amateur Packet Radio
	 A technical culture of ham-radio sites using AX.25 and TCP/IP for
	 wide-area networking and BBS systems.
    Berkeley
	 University of California at Berkeley
    BBN
	 Bolt, Beranek & Newman
    Cambridge
	 the university in England (*not* the city in Massachusetts where
	 MIT happens to be located!)
    CMU
	 Carnegie-Mellon University
    Commodore
	 Commodore Business Machines
    DEC
	 The Digital Equipment Corporation
    Fairchild
	 The Fairchild Instruments Palo Alto development group
    FidoNet
	 See the FidoNet entry
    IBM
	 International Business Machines
    MIT
	 Massachusetts Institute of Technology; esp. the legendary MIT AI
	 Lab culture of roughly 1971 to 1983 and its feeder groups,
	 including the Tech Model Railroad Club
    NRL
	 Naval Research Laboratories
    NYU
	 New York University
    OED
	 The Oxford English Dictionary
    Purdue
	 Purdue University
    SAIL
	 Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (at Stanford
	 University)
    SI
	 From Syst`eme International, the name for the standard
	 conventions of metric nomenclature used in the sciences
    Stanford
	 Stanford University
    Sun
	 Sun Microsystems
    TMRC
	 Some MITisms go back as far as the Tech Model Railroad Club
	 (TMRC) at MIT c. 1960.  Material marked TMRC is from "An Abridged
	 Dictionary of the TMRC Language", originally compiled by Pete
	 Samson in 1959
    UCLA
	 University of California at Los Angeles
    UK
	 the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland)
    Usenet
	 See the Usenet entry
    WPI
	 Worcester Polytechnic Institute, site of a very active community
	 of PDP-10 hackers during the 1970s
    WWW
	 The World-Wide-Web.
    XEROX PARC
	 XEROX's Palo Alto Research Center, site of much pioneering
	 research in user interface design and networking
    Yale
	 Yale University
Some other etymology abbreviations such as Unix and PDP-10 refer to technical cultures surrounding specific operating systems, processors, or other environments. The fact that a term is labelled with any one of these abbreviations does not necessarily mean its use is confined to that culture. In particular, many terms labelled `MIT' and `Stanford' are in quite general use. We have tried to give some indication of the distribution of speakers in the usage notes; however, a number of factors mentioned in the introduction conspire to make these indications less definite than might be desirable.

A few new definitions attached to entries are marked [proposed]. These are usually generalizations suggested by editors or Usenet respondents in the process of commenting on previous definitions of those entries. These are *not* represented as established jargon.


[prev][up][next]
Return to Cool Jargon of the Day