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The latest selection for 2009 Word of the Year comes from the good people at Merriam-Webster. Unlike other dictionary publishers that anoint an annual word, Merriam-Webster bases its winner and runners-up on actual user lookups to its online dictionary and thesaurus. So instead of the novelties selected by its competitors (distracted driving from Webster's New World, unfriend from New Oxford American), Merriam-Webster's choice is an old word that worked its way into current events: admonish.  Continue reading...
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The New Oxford American Dictionary has announced its Word of the Year for 2009: it's unfriend, defined as "to remove someone as a 'friend' on a social networking site such as Facebook." Readers of this space will be quite familiar with the term, as I discussed it along with similar un-verbs on Word Routes in May and then again in September as a followup to my On Language column in the New York Times Magazine, "The Age of Undoing." It's nice to feel ahead of the curve on this one, but truth be told, unfriending has been going on for many years.  Continue reading...
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Quadrivial Quandary

Software engineer Rudi Seitz has set up a fun challenge he calls Quadrivial Quandary: "Each day we present four words from our favorite dictionary sites. Your challenge is to use them all in a sentence that illustrates their meanings." Join in the logophilia here.
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Leave it to lexicographers to sneak a word like hypallage into a press release. The occasion is the Word of the Year from Webster's New World Dictionary (yes, it's Word of the Year season already). Webster's New World chose distracted driving as its Word of the Year for 2009, defined as "use of a cellphone or other portable electronic device while operating a motor vehicle." The press release notes that distracted driving features a "linguistic catch" that is "frequently seen in poetry": hypallage. Say what?  Continue reading...
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The Case for Dictionary Day

In the Boston Globe, lexicographer Erin McKean makes a compelling case for turning Dictionary Day (Noah Webster's birthday on October 16th) into a national holiday. Read her column here.
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In part two of our interview with usage expert Bryan A. Garner, we talk about a new feature in the newly published third edition of his authoritative guide, Garner's Modern American Usage: the Language-Change Index, an innovative approach to evaluating how linguistic innovations spread and become accepted over time — for better or for worse.  Continue reading...
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Today, September 18th, is Samuel Johnson's 300th birthday. The English essayist, poet, novelist, and witty conversationalist whom we know mostly through the anecdotes recorded by his friend and biographer, James Boswell, and his other friends, became famous in his day for his two-volume Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1755. Dennis Baron, professor of English and linguistics at the University of Illinois, wishes Dr. Johnson a happy birthday — and a happy birthnight.  Continue reading...
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9 10 11 12 13 Displaying 71-77 of 117 Articles