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Blog Excerpts

Why You'll Be Able to Play "Qajaq" in Scrabble

The new edition of the official Scrabble dictionary is being released, and with it come 5,000 new words that North American players will be able to make with their tiles. There are helpful two-letter words like DA, GI, PO, and TE, but perhaps most interesting are such oddities as QAJAQ and QUINZHEE. It turns out those are both Inuit words, included because the Canadian Oxford Dictionary is one of the sources. Read all about it in the National Post here.
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Last week, as part of the Lexicon Valley podcast, I talked about how the word discombobulate grew out of a vogue in the Jacksonian era for making up jocular polysyllabic words with a pseudo-classical air. That impulse for concocting silly-sounding sesquipedalianisms has often bubbled up in the history of English.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

What Do You Call a Group Selfie?

If a "selfie" is a photograph of oneself, then what do you call a self-portrait of a group of people? The Associated Press has a suggestion: "An 'usie,' of course! As in 'us.' Pronounced uss-ee, rhymes with 'fussy.'" Read the AP article, which quotes our own Ben Zimmer, here, and then check out Mark Peters' exploration of "selfie" variants here.
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Adding to our collection of Beatles linguistic analysis (we've written about the iconic band's pronouns, nonsense sounds, and gear language) and in a manner reminiscent of recent analysis of rappers' vocabularies, the Liverpool Echo has conducted a vocabulary survey of British pop music, and concluded that the Beatles "have one of the smallest vocabularies in pop music."  Continue reading...
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Weird Al Yankovic's "Word Crimes" video transforms Robin Thicke's scandalous "Blurred Lines" into a prescriptivist grammarian's screed. We think it's brilliant and are happy to see it getting much play in the language-loving community this week.  Continue reading...
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Hillary Clinton put her foot in her mouth recently when she made some comments that made it sound like she and her family were inches from the poorhouse and perhaps down to their last mouthful of gruel. She tried to explain this gaffe by saying those comments were inartful. Huh?  Continue reading...
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Context collapse is cited by researchers as a reason friendships fall apart online, with only the Borg mind of Mark Zuckerberg to connect them. That certainly makes sense. If the only context we share is that we were in the same fourth-grade English class, and the teacher tossed the same erasers at us for talking in class, and we didn't even like each other much then, our context is thinner than a supermodel.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 8-14 of 376 Articles