Sunday, October 27, 2013

How do we do it? Volume

One thing (the only thing?) we can thank the NSA's vast snooping effort for is the popularization of the term bulk spying. Open up a newspaper (virtual or otherwise) this week and you'd have a hard time missing the term.

It doesn't look as if the term is new, though. The BBC used the term bulk espionage in a piece from 23 Feb 2000, and a student learning English asked the next day what bulk spying meant.

Are there earlier cites? I need different corpora to search through ...

Friday, October 18, 2013

An assortment in advance

I was assigned the task today of acquiring a batch of donuts for my group at work. At the donut place I told the girl I wanted a dozen, and she said I could choose the ones I wanted, or alternatively, they had boxes of preassorted donuts.

The pre- part is clear. Why not preselected? When I roll that one around in my mind, it gives the feeling of deliberateness to the selection process. Do they mean that there's some randomness in their assortment? Too bad I didn't have the presence of mind to ask how their preassorting process works.

They are not alone in using the term. I found about 500 legitimate hits on Google. As I look through the listings, I'm not sure I can detect a definitive pattern. Here are some examples:
... and more.

I actually have access to a kind of subject-matter expert; my daughter works at a store that sells chocolates. I asked her whether they sell "preassorted" collections. No, she said; they use the terms pre-packed or just assorted. Both of which make sense to me.

So I'm still a little unclear on what preassorted conveys that preselected doesn't. Any ideas?