, executive producer of the Visual Thesaurus and Vocabulary.com, has been writing a language column for the last couple of years for The Boston Globe
(and before that for The New York Times Magazine
). Now he is starting a new language column for The Wall Street Journal
called "Word on the Street." Each week he will focus on a word in the news and examine its history. In his first column, he looks at how cyber
is showing up with increasing frequency as a noun. Check it out here
In the latest quarterly update to the Oxford English Dictionary, one entry in particular has attracted attention: tweet
, previously defined only as the chirping of birds, has been expanded to refer to 140-character Twitter updates as well. The OED loosened its usual "ten year rule" to let this newcomer in.
"There are some old words," explains Arika Okrent on Mental Floss, "that are nearly obsolete but we still recognize because they were lucky enough to get stuck in set phrases that have lasted across the centuries." Okrent lists a dozen "lucky words that survived by getting fossilized in idioms."
You might have seen a set of American English dialect maps making the rounds online after a Business Insider
piece about the maps went viral. But where does all of that survey data come from? Our own Ben Zimmer has the story on Language Log — read his post here
Visual Thesaurus contributor James Harbeck
recently appeared on NPR's Weekend Edition to give a phonetic breakdown of noises that teenagers often make. Listen to the segment here
, and read more about teenage sounds on The Week here
. Breathy-voiced long low back unrounded vowel with advanced tongue root, anyone?
Los Angeles Times tech reporter Chris O'Brien has discovered that the favorite word among techie types is "delight": "A squishy, subjective, hard-to-pin-down term. So daringly unquantifiable, so proudly immeasurable. And now, suddenly, all the rage in data-driven Silicon Valley." Read O'Brien's delightful piece here
With Baz Luhrmann's movie adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby
arriving in theaters, this week has been full of Gatsby
talk. Online commentators have been writing about words coined or popularized by Fitzgerald, the slang of the 1920s "flapper" era, and even the name Gatsby