Nostromo, agence de communication, s'amuse avec Face App dans un musée

Un sourire fait toute la différence

Nous nous sommes dit, chez l’agence de communication Nostromo, qu’un peu de détente avant les ponts serait la bienvenue. Et quand nous sommes tombés sur la série de photo, géniale, d’Olly Gibs (un graphiste et designer travaillant pour Esquire), nous n’avons pas pu résister (il crédite sa petite amie pour l’idée). Ce dernier a utilisé une application qui fait fureur en ce moment, appelée FaceApp. Cette dernière permet, à partir d’une photo de visage, d’appliquer quatre “filtres” un peu spéciaux : rajeunissant, vieillissant, en ajoutant un sourire, et en changeant de genre (masculin > féminin et inversement). Vous avez probablement d’ailleurs déjà rencontré des images issues de cette application ; elles sont en moyenne plutôt convaincante, même s’il est rare que les 4 filtres fonctionnent tous sur la même photo (il y a en toujours un qui ne ressort pas bien).

Olly Gibs (et sa petite amie, donc) on eu l’idée géniale d’utiliser le filtre “sourire” sur… les portraits, plutôt solennels, du Rijksmuseum d’Amsterdam. Le contraste entre le sérieux et la qualité de l’exécution des maîtres flamands et néerlandais et le sourire, souvent crédible (ce qui est assez surprenant) mais avec ce je-ne-sais-quoi de décalé, est tout bonnement délicieux. Admirez :

 

On ne sait pas pour vous, mais nous, ça nous remplit d’allégresse. Maintenant, qui est volontaire pour aller faire la même chose au Louvre ?

Nostromo, agence de communication, explique le SEO semantique

Le SEO et la sémantique

On ne saurait trop souligner l’importance du SEO. C’est quelque chose que nous tâchons de montrer, chez l’agence de communication Nostromo, chaque fois que le sujet arrive sur la table. Avec la prédominance extrême des résultats placés sur la première page de Google – ils attirent plus de 90% du trafic -, on comprend aisément que le référencement est rapidement vital, pour peu que l’on soit dans un domaine un tant soit peu concurrentiel. Et, pour optimiser son SEO, la “nouvelle” mode (il s’agit plus en fait de l’aboutissement d’une évolution progressive) est la sémantique. La différence est fondamentale : plutôt que d’indexer les résultats en fonction de mots-clé, la recherche se fait en fonction du sens des mots. Si l’on en est pas encore là, il faut savoir que tous les moteurs de recherche s’y préparent, et que par conséquent, il serait avisé d’en faire autant…

Voilà, résumé sous forme d’infographie, les principales informations à savoir sur le sujet, pour commencer du bon pied. Bonne lecture !

Nostromo, agence de communication, explique le SEO semantique

Les règles inconnues du langage

Cela fait déjà quelque temps que nous avions repéré, chez l’agence de communication Nostromo, un article de la très excellente rubrique Word’s worth de la BBC, et que nous travaillons, à nos heures perdues, à explorer la question soulevée par l’article pour notre propre langue. Mais nous ne résistons pas au plaisir de citer l’article d’origine, qui en plus d’être très instructif, est également très bien écrit…

Vous trouverez l’article original ici.

 

The language rules we know – but don’t know we know

By Mark Forsyth, 8 September 2016

 

Mark Forsyth tasted internet fame this week when a passage from a book he wrote went viral. He explains more language secrets that native speakers know without knowing.

Over the weekend, I happened to go viral. Or rather a single paragraph from a book I wrote called The Elements of Eloquence went viral. The guilty paragraph went like this:

“Adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac. It’s an odd thing that every English speaker uses that list, but almost none of us could write it out.”

English speakers love to learn this sort of thing for two reasons. First, it astonishes us that there are rules that we didn’t know that we knew. That’s rather peculiar, and rather exciting. We’re all quite a lot cleverer than we think we are. And there’s the shock of realising that there’s a reason there may be little green men on Mars, but there certainly aren’t green little men. Second, you can spend the next hour of your life trying to think of exceptions, which is useful as it keeps you from doing something foolish like working.

Actually, there are a couple of small exceptions. Little Red Riding Hood may be perfectly ordered, but the Big Bad Wolf seems to be breaking all the laws of linguistics. Why does Bad Big Wolf sound so very, very wrong? What happened to the rules?

Ding dong King Kong

Well, in fact, the Big Bad Wolf is just obeying another great linguistic law that every native English speaker knows, but doesn’t know that they know. And it’s the same reason that you’ve never listened to hop-hip music.

You are utterly familiar with the rule of ablaut reduplication. You’ve been using it all your life. It’s just that you’ve never heard of it. But if somebody said the words zag-zig, or ‘cross-criss you would know, deep down in your loins, that they were breaking a sacred rule of language. You just wouldn’t know which one.

All four of a horse’s feet make exactly the same sound. But we always, always say clip-clop, never clop-clip. Every second your watch (or the grandfather clock in the hall makes the same sound) but we say tick-tock, never tock-tick. You will never eat a Kat Kit bar. The bells in Frère Jaques will forever chime ‘ding dang dong’.

Reduplication in linguistics is when you repeat a word, sometimes with an altered consonant (lovey-dovey, fuddy-duddy, nitty-gritty), and sometimes with an altered vowel: bish-bash-bosh, ding-dang-dong. If there are three words then the order has to go I, A, O. If there are two words then the first is I and the second is either A or O. Mish-mash, chit-chat, dilly-dally, shilly-shally, tip top, hip-hop, flip-flop, tic tac, sing song, ding dong, King Kong, ping pong.

Why this should be is a subject of endless debate among linguists, it might be to do with the movement of your tongue or an ancient language of the Caucasus. It doesn’t matter. It’s the law, and, as with the adjectives, you knew it even if you didn’t know you knew it. And the law is so important that you just can’t have a Bad Big Wolf.

Tense situations

It’s astonishing quite how expert you are at the English language. There are so many tenses you can use without even thinking about it, and almost certainly without being able to name them. It depends how you count them, but there are about 20 that you deploy faultlessly. The pluperfect progressive passive for an extended state of action that happened to you prior to another action in the past is, when you put it like that, rather daunting. But then you’d happily say “I realised I’d been being watched” without breaking sweat or blinking. Think how daunting this is for people learning English. The teacher has to explain to them that the English don’t usually use the present tense for things that are happening in the present. “I brush my teeth” doesn’t mean that you’re doing it right now, it just means that you do it regularly. For things that are actually happening right now you use the present progressive “I’m brushing my teeth” (but only if you can speak with your mouth full).

And having learnt that you then have to learn that there are certain exceptions, like the verb ‘to think’ used as an auxiliary, as in “I think you’re right”. This is why, incidentally, lots of non-native speakers will use phrases like “I am thinking that you are right”. It sounds faintly comic to us, but we had years and years and years of immersion learning just to get all these subtleties. And English is complex and weird. We actually have a tense called the Future Present. Imagine having to learn that. But for us it’s just “The train leaves tomorrow.”

Some rules we really should know. It’s surprising and dispiriting how many English people don’t know the rules of stress, because that’s how all our poetry works. It’s quite easy really, and we can hear it in other languages. Everyone knows that Italian has rhythm, it goes MAM-a MI-a BUON-a SER-a. But so does our language. And that’s how verse works. I can illustrate with my favourite limerick (or at least my favourite clean one). Try reading this aloud:

There was a young man from Dundee
Got stung on the leg by a wasp
When asked does it hurt
He said ‘Yes it does.
‘I’m so glad it wasn’t a hornet.’

That has no rhymes, but it still works as a limerick because rhymes aren’t nearly as important as rhythm. And the rhythm goes:

de-DUM-de, de-DUM-de, de-DUM
de-DUM-de, de-DUM-de, de-DUM
de-DUM-de, de-DUM
de-DUM-de, de-DUM
de-DUM-de, de-DUM-de, de-DUM-de

Which only works because we know to pronounce Dundee as ‘dun-DEE’, and not to rhyme with Grundy or the Isle of Lundy. It’s the subtle difference when we record a record or present a present or tell a rebel to rebel. It’s a difference that is very hard for people to learn, and is the main reason that, in a strong French accent, there’s no difference between happiness and a penis.

English is an immensely complicated language to get right, and native speakers often have no idea of its strangeness. We understand the sentence “I can’t put up with the guy I’m putting up at my house, his put-downs really put me out and I’m feeling put-upon”. Or “I’m doing up my house and it’s doing me in.” Literally, that should mean “I’m performing my house skywards and it’s performing me towards the interior”. These are called phrasal verbs and they are the nightmare of every would-be English speaker. Somebody once said of Ian Fleming that he got off with women because he couldn’t get on with them. To us that’s a simple joke, to a learner who also has to get through, get by, get down, get with it, get up… it does their head in.

English is largely made up of the rules we don’t know that we know. And actually the rules we know we know are a rarity. We can cling to a few of them at least. At least we all know that we know that adjectives have comparatives and superlatives. Big, bigger, biggest. Hot, hotter, hottest. Easy, easier, easiest. It’s comforting. It’s reliable. It’s something we know that we know.

But can you do it with an adjective that’s three syllables long?

Curiouser and curiouser.

 

Mark Forsyth is the author of The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase

 

 

Merci Mark…

L'agence de communication Nostromo partage une infographie montrant que le papier n'a pas dit son dernier mot

Le papier séduit aussi les jeunes

Voilà bien un résultat inattendu : les jeunes, accros à leurs écrans fixes et mobiles, se montrent sensibles au… courrier publicitaire, alors qu’on aurait pu facilement croire le contraire (nous sommes, chez Nostromo, agence de communication, toujours convaincu du bien-fondé du papier, quand il est utilisé à bon escient). Plus étonnant encore, il semblerait qu’il existe une corrélation entre lecture de courrier publicitaire et achat sur internet. C’est un peu comme si, noyé dans les publicités sur écran – et habitués à les faire sauter le plus tôt possible d’un geste du doigt -, retrouver le contact physique avec un objet fait toute la différence. Il y a probablement un autre facteur en jeu : avec la diminution générale du courrier, on ne reçoit plus que des prospectus, des factures ou les impôts. Autant dire que des trois, nous savons bien quelle lecture est la moins rébarbative… Voilà, sous forme d’infographie, les résultats de l’étude menée par Ipsos pour Game Changer.

Bonne lecture, et la prochaine fois, pensez à ce que vous allez trouver dans votre boîte aux lettres !

 

L'agence de communication Nostromo partage une infographie montrant que le papier n'a pas dit son dernier mot