This week there has been a raging language debate about the inclusion of the non-literal meaning of "literally" in various dictionaries. But is the whole controversy overblown? Here is a roundup of online reactions.
and Oxford University Press recently organized a webcast entitled "Should 'Tweeps' Be in the Dictionary?" about the role of dictionaries in the age of social media. Participating were Katherine Connor Martin, head of U.S. dictionaries at OUP, Henrietta Thornton-Verma, reviews editor at Library Journal
, and Ben Zimmer, executive producer of Vocabulary.com and the Visual Thesaurus. Read Thornton-Verma's recap here
, and listen to the full webcast here
On TIME Newsfeed, Katy Steinmetz wonders why Twitter has inspired "an army of fusion words," or portmanteaus — from "Twiplomacy" (Twitter diplomacy) to "Twitterati" (Twitter literati). Our own Ben Zimmer has some ideas.
Claire Hardaker, a linguist at Lancaster University in the U.K., recently published a survey of "trolling," i.e., "behavior of being deliberately antagonistic or offensive via computer-mediated communication (CMC), typically for amusement's sake." In the wake of the media attention her work has received, Hardaker considers the varying definitions people have for the word "troll."
"Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling was recently revealed to have written a crime novel, "The Cuckoo's Calling," using the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. How she was found out involved a couple of linguistic experts analyzing the "little words" that are used in the novel's text.
Since the overthrow of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, U.S. government officials have been wrestling with a question of semantics: should Morsi's removal be called a coup
? The answer to the question has serious foreign-policy implications.
, 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