1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 15-21 of 110 Articles

Late last year, there was some controversy in the media over a new book by Sarah Ogilvie about the Oxford English Dictionary's historical coverage of foreign words. The controversy turned out to be a tempest in a teapot, overshadowing the worthy book behind it. Here, Mark Peters has an appreciation of Ogilvie's Words of the World.  Continue reading...
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Arm-twisting is a means of inducing cooperation through pressure. Words do it too — in the case of words, it is peer pressure that induces cooperation, and the pressure on a word is to express a meaning that the word's companions make compulsory.  Continue reading...
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Scandal at the OED? Not So Much

Earlier this week, an article in the Guardian reported that "an eminent former editor of the Oxford English Dictionary covertly deleted thousands of words because of their foreign origins and bizarrely blamed previous editors." But it turns out that this seemingly sensational story is "completely bogus," according to OED editor at large Jesse Sheidlower. Read Sheidlower's explanation on The New Yorker's Culture Desk blog here. (Update, 12/3: Our own Ben Zimmer has a column about the pseudo-controversy on the New York Times op/ed page.)
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Everyone likes puppies, cookies, Batman, and humorous quotations. Therefore, the fourth edition of The Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations, edited by the late Ned Sherrin, should be enjoyed by everyone. This Brit-heavy volume leans closer to the witty than the funny, but it's both a serious reference book and a hall-of-fame bathroom book.  Continue reading...
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Ain't This Good English?

David Skinner's new book, The Story of Ain't, is about the controversy that surrounded the 1961 publication of Webster's Third New International Dictionary, which was blasted for not coming down hard enough on nonstandard words like ain't. Skinner looks at how far we've come in our view of slang and dictionaries in a piece for the Wall Street Journal, "Ain't This Good English?" And read more about Webster's Third in Ben Zimmer's Word Routes column last year celebrating the dictionary's 50th birthday.
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Today is National Dictionary Day, celebrating the birth of lexicographer Noah Webster, who wrote An American Dictionary of the English Language, which defined an American version of the English lexicon for the first time. To celebrate, let us know your favorite all-American word.  Continue reading...
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The Oxford English Dictionary has long relied on "the wisdom of the crowds" to build a comprehensive historical record of English words and phrases back to their origins. The dictionary's latest experiment in crowdsourcing is "OED Appeals," an online initiative to engage the public in finding "antedatings," or citations that predate the earliest known examples in the OED files.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 15-21 of 110 Articles