April 23, 2014
It's William Shakespeare's 450th birthday today. What better way to celebrate than with a whole host of learning resources focused on his words? Continue reading...
How ALL CAPS Became Code for YELLING
April 22, 2014
Ever wonder why we think that someone who types a message in all capitalized letters appears to be YELLING? In The New Republic, Alice Robb digs deep into the roots of how the ALL CAPS style has been interpreted in the Internet era (with some help from our own Ben Zimmer in the digital archaeology department), and explains why excessive capitalization is bad netiquette. Read her piece here.
"Staycation," "Bleisure," and Other Made-Up Travel Words
April 15, 2014
Is the travel industry particularly susceptible to making up words like "bleisure" (combining "business" and "leisure") and "staycation" (for a stay-at-home vacation)? Associated Press travel reporter Beth J. Harpaz investigates — with help from our own Ben Zimmer, who says that such neologisms "come in handy in a business sector where there's often a need to come up with clever marketing spin." Read the AP article here.
Scrabble Showdown: "Zen" Versus... "Geocache"?
April 9, 2014
In Hasbro's "Scrabble Word Showdown," fans of the game have been narrowing down candidates for a new word to include the game's soon-to-be-revised official dictionary. Two finalists are left standing: zen (which many Scrabblers have been requesting), and... geocache, the recipient of a big get-out-the-vote effort by fans of the high-tech treasure hunt known as "geocaching." See the latest from Hasbro here, and read Caitlin Dewey's take in the Washington Post here. Update: And the winner is... geocache!
Baseball Lingo, from "Cup of Coffee" to "Southpaw"
April 8, 2014
With the baseball season underway, the sport's colorful lingo comes to the fore once again. Our own Ben Zimmer talked to KUOW-Seattle about the origins of some baseball terms, like "cup of coffee," "hitterish," and "southpaw." Catch the interview here.
Which Word Should Go Into the Next Scrabble Dictionary?
April 3, 2014
Hasbro, the company that makes Scrabble, is revising the game's official dictionary, and they're letting Scrabble fans pick one of the words to include. Some worthy contenders include zen, ew, and bestie. You can join in the Scrabble Word Showdown on Facebook here, and check out the authoritative take on Hasbro's contest from Stefan Fatsis on Slate here.
March 26, 2014
Is it possible to take vocabulary expansion too far? In a piece in the Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Bernstein points out the situations where word-knowledge can work against you, making the point that "language junkies" might want to be careful lest they alienate people they're trying to impress, or just render themselves incomprehensible. Continue reading...