Six years ago, Fred Shapiro, editor of the Yale Book of Quotations
, stirred up some controversy over the origins of the famous Serenity Prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference." Shapiro cast doubt on the popular attribution of the saying to the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. But now Shapiro has gained some serenity of his own by concluding that Niebuhr really did originate the prayer.
A great challenge for anyone looking to improve their vocabulary is identifying the words they don't know. Yesterday, Slate contributor Seth Stevenson gave the phenomenon a name in "Bubble vocabulary: the words you almost know, sometimes use, but are secretly unsure of."
Just in time for William Shakespeare's 450th birthday
comes word of what could be an extremely important Shakespearean find. Two rare-book dealers have in their possession a copy of a sixteenth-century quadrilingual dictionary (bought on eBay!) that they claim belonged to Shakespeare himself. The dictionary is already known to be a favorite reference of the Bard, and the owners of this copy think the annotations are in Shakespeare's hand. But there are already many doubters. Read about it in the Guardian here
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?
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
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
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
: And the winner is... geocache