Exploring the pathways of our lexicon
June 4, 2009By Ben Zimmer
I recently made my way to Bloomington, Indiana for the biennial conference of the Dictionary Society of North America, a sublime convergence of unabashed word-nerdery. There was a fascinating array of paper presentations, on everything from grand old men like Samuel Johnson and Noah Webster to cutting-edge techniques in online lexicography. But one paper that I found particularly enjoyable had to do with a Victorian-era "Anglo-Indian glossary" that has had remarkable staying power over the past century or so, perhaps in part due to its memorable title: Hobson-Jobson. The paper, by Traci Nagle of Indiana University, took a look at exactly how the dictionary ended up with such a peculiar name. Continue reading...