about tokens

The word token has many meanings, having synonyms such as symbol, memento, or representative:

    1. I give you this squid as a token of my affection.
    2. I’ll keep these pants forever as a token of my holiday escapades.
    3. I posted this photo of a duck in the dishwasher as a token of the many pictures I’ve taken of random things.

A token can also be a conventionalized object, such as a metal coin or plastic figure, used in place of money for some transactions or used in some sort of group activity, like a game.

    4. I’m not sure what to do with my old subway tokens now that they’ve started using Charlie Cards.
    5. My old Monopoly game was missing half its tokens.

In my world, though, the most frequent use of the word token is the meaning used in linguistics. In linguistics, a token is an instance of some form that is being studied, an item of a particular category or class.

This is an excerpt from a post from April 2007. Want to read more about tokens in linguistics? See my full post.

5 thoughts on “about tokens

  1. I’m all giggles. Once upon a time, a very, very, very long time ago, when my dearly departed (as in, left) and I were divvying up the household goods, the only thing we fought over was a jar of old New York subway tokens.

    I report this only because I’ve always thought it funny, but never found a conversation where it seemed to fit. It seems to fit here very nicely. I suppose this proves at minimum that, if you wait long enough, there’s a home for every sentence in the world!

    I enjoyed this post, as well as all that pondering on the quotative use of “be like”. I heard myself do that about a month ago and I was like “OMG I’m turning into a Valley Girl!”

  2. The last definition is very interesting, something that the laypeople wouldn’t know. Actually, when I first saw the name of your blog, I read Token as, even if it may not the meaning you intended, the sardonic reference to a person who is not from the dominant category within any given group but is tolerated within the group as a representative for the other categories that are marginalized. Like, a Token Female inside the boardroom, etc. I thought it to be a clever, ironic, title and interpretation and instantly took a liking to your blog.

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