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Tyler Cowen points today to a list of words that show the biggest disparities in recognition between men and women. Men, for example, are pretty familiar with humvee, claymore, and scimitar. Women are pretty familiar with taffeta, wisteria, and bodice. No big surprises there. But here’s the #1 word on the male list:

codec (88, 48)

Seriously? We’re supposed to believe that 88 percent of men are familiar with the word codec? True, this is only a test for recognizing a word, not necessarily for knowing what it means, but still. Something is wrong with this picture. Even taking into account the number of gamers and audiophiles who end up having to muck around with codecs, I’d still guess that no more than 10-20 percent of the men in America have ever come across the word.

But then again, maybe I’m wrong. Is it possible that among American males, knowledge of codecs is as widespread as knowledge of carburetors used to be?

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