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Blog Excerpts

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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Another week, another update from a dictionary publisher reflecting recent additions to the lexicon. Last week, it was Merriam-Webster rolling out new words, including such eyebrow-raisers as f-bomb and sexting. Now comes Oxford Dictionaries Online with their quarterly update, making space for some trendy neologisms, including lolz, ridic, and the nefarious mwahahaha.  Continue reading...
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If there's one thing that dictionary publishers have learned, it's that announcing new words added to their latest editions is good for generating some media attention — and also generating public hand-wringing over what the new entries say about the state of our society and our language.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

The Forensic Linguist and the "Devil's Strip"

An article in The New Yorker about forensic linguistics tells the story of how the phrase "devil's strip" in a ransom note pinpointed the writer to Akron, Ohio. The forensic linguist, Roger Shuy, figured that out with the help of The Dictionary of American Regional English. Harvard University Press Blog provides the details here.
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The word marriage has been the subject of a huge amount of political and legal wrangling, and dictionaries have lately been caught in the crossfire. With major English dictionaries expanding their definitions of marriage to encompass same-sex unions, lexicographers have taken hits from liberals and conservatives alike. Those opposed to same-sex marriage would prefer that dictionaries maintain the traditional definition, while those on the other side of the debate argue that same-sex marriage shouldn't be treated as secondary. Lexicographers find themselves in a no-win situation.  Continue reading...
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2 3 4 5 6 Displaying 22-28 of 113 Articles