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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Thanks to numerous anecdotes about the old and new ways of the lexicography, I quite enjoyed The Word Detective: Searching for the Meaning of it All at the Oxford English Dictionary, the memoir of John Simpson, former Chief Editor. Simpson was a participant and prime mover in the huge changes to the OED, which saw the dictionary finally being produced, "from the computer database, not from copper plates." Because of the unique insights into the most important and impressive dictionary in English, this is a book any word lover should enjoy.  Continue reading...
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As we look back at the language of the recent election, it's hard not to feel like political language has fallen into the sewer, and plummeted from there into a lower sewer, and might be still falling.  Continue reading...
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Every month I collect and inspect a plethora of sneaky terms from sources far and wide, to share a laugh over the human race's ludicrous attempts at lexical trickery. This month, the euphs are all coming from a single source I wish to celebrate: Green's Dictionary of Slang (GDoS).  Continue reading...
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While millions of people are tweeting and retweeting every day, a small fraction of them are also subtweeting, and if news stories are to be believed, they are not doing so very successfully. Recent news stories alerted me to the idea of subtweeting and got me thinking about the conversational aspects of Tweets and their sub-cousins.  Continue reading...
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Ta-da! You're about to read my eightieth column for Visual Thesaurus—Happy Column! Penning (on computer of course) twelve hundred words on aspects of writing every few weeks has been a pleasurable discipline that's taught me, I hope, to say a lot in a little.  Continue reading...
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