CLOSE
Original image
istock collage

The Evolution of "That [Noun] Though"

Original image
istock collage

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.

Original image
iStock
arrow
Live Smarter
Computer Users, Rejoice: You're Finally Allowed to Create Easy-to-Remember Passwords
Original image
iStock
To keep your personal data secure, it’s important to craft a strong password—and for nearly 15 years, savvy computer users have heeded the counsel of Bill Burr, the man who quite literally wrote the book on password management. Now, The Wall Street Journal reports that Burr has admitted that some of his advice was flawed. While working as a manager at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2003, Burr wrote a primer—officially known as “NIST Special Publication 800-63. Appendix A”—that instructed federal workers to create codes using obscure characters, a mix of lowercase and capital letters, and numbers. For security purposes, he also recommended changing passwords on a regular basis. At the time, however, Burr didn’t have a ton of data to rely on, so he ended up using a paper published in the mid-1980s as a primary source for the manual. Burr’s primer eventually became widely used among federal workers, corporate companies, websites, and tech companies alike. But in hindsight, experts say that Burr’s directives didn’t actually improve cybersecurity: The NIST recently gave his primer received a full overhaul, and they opted to eliminate the now-famous rules about using special characters and switching up codes. These rules “actually had a negative impact on usability,” Paul Grassi, the NIST standards-and-technology adviser who led Special Publication 800-63’s rewrite, told The Wall Street Journal. They make it harder to remember and type in codes, plus those parties who did change their passwords every 90 days typically only made minor, easy-to-guess alterations. Plus, research now shows that longer passwords—a series of around four words—are ultimately harder to crack than shorter combinations of letters, characters, or numbers. (And at the end of the day, computer users ended up paradoxically choosing the same “random” passwords used by millions of others.) The NIST now recommends long, easy-to-remember passwords (not the “#!%”-filled ones of yesteryear) and for people to switch codes only if they suspect that their existing one has been stolen. In short, it's probably time to change your password—and this time around, you might even have an easier time remembering it.
Original image
iStock
arrow
technology
Hacked Rotary Phone Demonstrates How the Internet Works
Original image
iStock

Untangling the inner workings of the internet gets complicated fast, partly because the World Wide Web isn’t a single entity. Rather, it’s a vast network of networks in communication with one another. To demonstrate this complex process at work, a group of students from Copenhagen reduced it to something most people are familiar with: a rotary telephone.

As Co.Design reports, the Internet Phone looks like an old-fashioned telephone with a rotary dial, but students at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design have modified it to function like a web browser. To use it, callers dial the IP address of whichever website they wish to visit. When the call is answered, a voice reads the text aloud as it would appear on the webpage.

If a caller wants to hear the raw HTML, they can switch the phone to “developer” mode. There’s also an “article” option for skipping irrelevant content and a “history” mode for redialing the last five IP addresses that were called.

It may be hard to connect the act of calling a website on a rotary phone to opening a site on your smartphone, but the two aren’t that far apart. The students write in the project description:

“Each step in the user experience is comparable to the process that a browser takes when retrieving a website. Looking up the IP addresses in a phone book is similar to how a browser gets an IP address from DNS (Domain Name System) directories. Dialing the twelve digits and waiting for the phone to retrieve the HTML content mimic how a browser requests data from servers. The voice-to-speech reading of the website is comparable to how a browser translates HTML and CSS code into human understandable content.”

After watching the reinvented phone in action, check out these other practical uses for retro technology.

[h/t Co.Design]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios