January 18th is celebrated as Thesaurus Day to honor the birthday of the author of the first thesaurus, Peter Mark Roget. Get into the spirit by reading our two-part interview with Roget biographer Joshua Kendall here
. Also check out an ode to the thesaurus penned by Franklin P. Adams here
and Johnny Carson's hilarious "Funeral for a Thesaurus Editor" sketch here
On Minnesota Public Radio, our executive editor Ben Zimmer explored the problematic history of the word refugee
, now frequently heard in media accounts of the European migration crisis.
On the first Monday in September, the United States observes Labor Day, while Canadians celebrate Labour Day. If you want to know why labour
is the accepted spelling in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries like Canada, while Americans prefer labor
, and neighbor
), check out this classic Word Routes column
by Ben Zimmer.
When English-language Scrabble champ Nigel Richards, who does not speak French, won a French-language Scrabble championship, analysts rushed to analyze how much memorization that actually entailed. Ben Zimmer explains that to get a full understanding of Richards' achievement, a simple counting of words in the dictionary only gives a partial picture.
It's time once again for the nationally televised semifinals and finals of The Scripps National Spelling Bee! As in past years, our own Ben Zimmer will be live-tweeting the competition from the @VocabularyCom
Twitter account and reporting on the results here in his Word Routes column.
As keynote speaker at the 2015 American Copy Editors Society meeting, lexicographer Ben Zimmer showed off the resources in the Vocabulary.com Dictionary as part of a talk on "Nitpickery, Debunkage, and the Joys of Getting It Right." Not surprisingly, ACES attendees live-tweeting the address were more likely to take note of Zimmer's singing, rapping, and discussion of language anachronisms in "Mad Men" and "Downton Abbey."
Grammar lovers, it's your time to shine! Write a haiku for National Grammar Day, March 4th ("march forth") and tweet it to #grammarday
. Or just enjoy these winning haiku from last year.