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The Evolution of "That [Noun] Though"

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How is language evolving on the Internet? In this series on internet linguistics, Gretchen McCulloch breaks down the latest innovations in online communication.

You may have seen comments like this online:

dat pic tho
that look though
that backflip doe
that face tho

What's going on here?

First of all, let's establish what we're looking at. We've got several parts: "dat" or "that" at the beginning, a noun like "pic" or "face" in the middle, and a variously-spelled "tho/doe/though" at the end. And the overall effect is positive: to say "dat hair tho" means that you approve of someone's hair.

Here's an early example of a popular Vine ("dat backflip tho") that popularized the "dat ... doe"/"that ... though" construction:

We can see there's already variation in how it's spelled: the creator of this video, @KingBach, tags it #ButThatBackflipTho in June 2013, while another video titled "dat dagger tho" went up on YouTube in April 2013. The second spelling is also used on Know Your Meme, which links it to an earlier image meme. It does look like the full "that … though" version is the newest: Urban Dictionary, for example, has "dat … doe" entries from late 2013 ("dat [blank] doe" from November 2013, for example) but the earliest "that … though" entry isn't until July 2014—almost a year later.

Why might the spelling have changed? The pronunciation of "th" as "d" has a long history in many English varieties, including African American English, which is where this and many other slang terms have been taken from (see bae). The use of "dat ... doe" is a form of eye dialect, a way of spelling out non-standard pronunciations, but it can be unclear whether the spellings come from within the community, or from outsiders making assumptions about what they think a dialect sounds like. The gradual increase of the spelling "that ... though" may reflect the bleaching of its associations with African American English as the construction spread—and the diversity of spellings overall may be linked to people often picking it up via speech rather than writing.

But "dat ... tho" hasn't just changed spelling—it's also changed meaning. The earlier uses of "that … tho" tend to present it in a larger context where the "though" indicates a mitigating factor in comparison to some other thing that's not as good. For example, in "that backflip though," KingBach runs in calling "I'll save you" after a woman's purse is stolen. But instead of chasing after the thief, he runs up a wall and does an—admittedly impressive—backflip. Wait, what?? "Yeah but that backflip tho" acknowledges that the backflip is both well-executed and completely unexpected.

Similarly, the earlier Urban Dictionary entries for "dat booty doe" and similar expressions come with example scenarios which start with a negative comment about someone's face—a response like "but dat booty doe" or "dat smile tho" is clearly intended to express a mitigating factor.

But by a year later, it's become a general way of expressing approval without the initial setup of surprise or disappointment. A commenter on Reddit around the same time adds another contradiction-free example: "Watching a football game. Receiver makes great catch. 'That catch tho!'"

You could think of it as the speaker preemptively contradicting the objection you haven't even made yet. That superlative though.

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How Google Chrome’s New Built-In Ad Blocker Will Change Your Browsing Experience
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If you can’t stand web ads that auto-play sound and pop up in front of what you’re trying to read, you have two options: Install an ad blocker on your browser or avoid the internet all together. Starting Thursday, February 15, Google Chrome is offering another tool to help you avoid the most annoying ads on the web, Tech Crunch reports. Here’s what Google Chrome users should expect from the new feature.

Chrome’s ad filtering has been in development for about a year, but the details of how it will work were only recently made public. “While most advertising on the web is respectful of user experience, over the years we've increasingly heard from our users that some advertising can be particularly intrusive,” Google wrote in a blog post. “As we announced last June, Chrome will tackle this issue by removing ads from sites that do not follow the Better Ads Standards.

That means the new feature won’t block all ads from publishers or even block most of them. Instead, it will specifically target ads that violate the Better Ad Standards that the Coalition for Better Ads recommends based on consumer data. On desktop, this includes auto-play videos with sound, sticky banners that follow you as you scroll, pop-ups, and prestitial ads that make you wait for a countdown to access the site. Mobile Chrome users will be spared these same types of ads as well as flashing animations, ads that take up more than 30 percent of the screen, and ads the fill the whole screen as you scroll past them.

These criteria still leave room for plenty of ads to show up online—the total amount of media blocked by the feature won’t even amount to 1 percent of all ads. So if web browsers are looking for an even more ad-free experience, they should use Chrome’s ad filter as a supplement to one of the many third-party ad blockers out there.

And if accessing content without navigating a digital obstacle course first doesn’t sound appealing to you, don’t worry: On sites where ads are blocked, Google Chrome will show a notification that lets you disable the feature.

[h/t Tech Crunch]

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Live Smarter
Amazon Will Now Deliver Whole Foods Groceries To Your Door
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Since its acquisition of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in 2017, Amazon has slowly been ramping up synergy between the two brands. An Amazon Go concept convenience store in Seattle allows customers to enter, scan their cell phone, and walk out with groceries without having to stand in line; select Amazon products, like their Echo devices, have made their way onto retail shelves.

Now, consumers in Austin, Dallas, Cincinnati, and Virginia Beach can use their status as an Amazon Prime customer to get free home delivery of their Whole Foods groceries. Beginning Thursday, February 8, the market will drop off orders within two hours. (One-hour delivery carries a $7.99 charge.)

“We're happy to bring our customers the convenience of free two-hour delivery through Prime Now and access to thousands of natural and organic groceries and locally sourced favorites,” Whole Foods Market co-founder and CEO John Mackey said in a statement. “Together, we have already lowered prices on many items, and this offering makes Prime customers’ lives even easier.”

Most everything in the store is eligible for delivery, though we’re not certain they’d deliver a live lobster. “Select” alcohol is also available. You can visit primenow.com to see if you’re in their delivery region. Keep checking, as they plan to expand throughout 2018.

If you’re not near a Whole Foods at all, other regional grocery chains like Wegman’s also offer home delivery on a subscription-based pricing structure.

[h/t The Verge]

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