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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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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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I DARE Say!

The Dictionary of American Regional English (a.k.a. DARE) is finally completed — and it only took fifty years to do it! In the Boston Globe, Visual Thesaurus editor Ben Zimmer looks back on this monument to American speech, and looks ahead to new ways of approaching dialectology. Read his column here.
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Fred R. Shapiro, the editor of The Yale Book of Quotations, is constantly on the lookout for new quotations that might make the cut for the next edition of his authoritative quotation dictionary. Below, find out what he thinks are the top ten quotations of 2011.  Continue reading...
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The Internet makes it possible to publish dictionaries containing entries of any length, in any format, that are not necessarily subject to traditional rules or conventions. So it's fair to ask: is abandoning the traditional short-form definition, along with the paper it was once printed on, a case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater? Or is it a good opportunity to reinvent lexicography?  Continue reading...
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Yesterday, October 16, was National Dictionary Day, celebrated annually on the birthday of the great American lexicographer Noah Webster. Today the "Webster" name is practically synonymous with dictionaries, but how did the first "Webster's Dictionary" come to be? In this excerpt from The Forgotten Founding Father, Joshua Kendall recounts the publication of Webster's Compendious Dictionary in 1806, the first dictionary to bear his name and the first to feature his "American" spelling.  Continue reading...
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2 3 4 5 6 Displaying 22-28 of 109 Articles