Though I made a case for alt-right as 2016's Euphemism of the Year, the American Dialect Society went in another direction, those rascals! They selected locker-room talk, which is a pretty solid euphemism, though I'm not sure it made the top ten twaddlesome terms of 2016. This year is young, but there's already a candidate I suspect everyone and their uncle is going to support or at least suggest for 2017's euphemism of the year: alternative facts.  Continue reading...
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When I open an email that a spam filter has misdirected I'm rarely in doubt about whether it is or isn't spam, and the basis of my certainty is nearly always linguistic. For me, the reasons that spam fails so colossally to convince can be divided into two convenient categories of linguistic analysis: lexical and pragmatic.  Continue reading...
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At its annual meeting the American Dialect Society selected dumpster fire as its word of the year for 2016 and set a precedent by including an emoji in its announcement of the vote.  Continue reading...
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The American Dialect Society will be meeting in early January to present papers and share research about our ever-evolving language. They'll also pick the Word of the Year, along with many other categories—including Euphemism of the Year. Here's a list of suggested contenders.  Continue reading...
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Just as the OED will never be finished documenting the English language, there's always more to tell about the OED itself. So the latest addition to the historical record of our greatest historical dictionary—The Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by lexicographer Peter Gilliver—is most welcome.  Continue reading...
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Default. Reboot. Now that we are devoting an ever-increasing share of our time and minds to the ways we interact with technology, words and meanings that designate aspects of interaction between humans and computers are now being used to characterize social and interpersonal interaction that is independent of technology.  Continue reading...
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By most reliable measures, 2016 has been a very good year for fiction lovers. I'm not talking here about literature; I'm talking about the opposite of fact. In mid-November, Oxford Dictionaries declared post-truth to be its word of the year. Indeed, it's been a banner year for all the words we have at our disposal to say, "Nope, it just ain't so."  Continue reading...
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