To many, the selfie — a picture of yourself, taken by yourself and shared on social media — is a sign of rampant narcissism. I tend to share that belief. Even before I heard the word, I thought there was something mentally amiss with my Facebook friends who posted over a hundred head shots of themselves. However, as a lexicographer, I have to admit the selfie trend is now broader than the self.  Continue reading...
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The Chicago Manual of Style Online has a monthly Q&A called Shop Talk, and this month Ben Zimmer, executive producer of the Visual Thesaurus and Vocabulary.com, is featured. In the interview, Ben talks about the way that technology is shaping language and how sites like the Visual Thesaurus and Vocabulary.com can engage with "digital natives."  Continue reading...
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For language lovers, Slate's Lexicon Valley podcast has been required listening for the past year and a half. Now Lexicon Valley has announced that in addition to the podcast, it is also launching a language blog on Slate. The blog cross-publishes posts from contributors to Language Log, including our own Ben Zimmer.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Should "Tweeps" Be in the Dictionary?

Library Journal and Oxford University Press recently organized a webcast entitled "Should 'Tweeps' Be in the Dictionary?" about the role of dictionaries in the age of social media. Participating were Katherine Connor Martin, head of U.S. dictionaries at OUP, Henrietta Thornton-Verma, reviews editor at Library Journal, and Ben Zimmer, executive producer of Vocabulary.com and the Visual Thesaurus. Read Thornton-Verma's recap here, and listen to the full webcast here.
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On TIME Newsfeed, Katy Steinmetz wonders why Twitter has inspired "an army of fusion words," or portmanteaus — from "Twiplomacy" (Twitter diplomacy) to "Twitterati" (Twitter literati). Our own Ben Zimmer has some ideas.  Continue reading...
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Claire Hardaker, a linguist at Lancaster University in the U.K., recently published a survey of "trolling," i.e., "behavior of being deliberately antagonistic or offensive via computer-mediated communication (CMC), typically for amusement's sake." In the wake of the media attention her work has received, Hardaker considers the varying definitions people have for the word "troll."  Continue reading...
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A news story that flitted across the headlines earlier this year reported on a study called "The Geography of Happiness," in which researchers in Vermont subjected 10 million geotagged tweets to sentiment analysis. Their object was to arrive at a metric for the relative happiness of people in a place. "The Geography of Happiness" breaks new ground in the analysis of digital-age linguistic data, while also raising interesting questions about the limits of obtaining reliable results from algorithm-driven research on big bags of words.  Continue reading...
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