Welcome to this week’s Language Blog Roundup, in which we bring you the highlights from our favorite language blogs and the latest in word news and culture.
To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee is suing a local museum in the town that inspired her famous book for “exploiting” her fame “without offering compensation.” In light of plagiarism accusations against junior U.S. Senator Rand Paul, Rick Webb at Medium offered a proposed taxonomy of plagiarism.
Scientists at Microsoft might have figured out how to “enable the hearing to understand sign language—and vice versa.” The editors of DARE, the Dictionary of American Regional English, are going back into the field to map “tens of thousands of folk terms from sea to shining sea.” Meanwhile, a non-profit group in Washington, D.C. wants to build a science fiction museum.
Michael Rosen at The Guardian told us why H is the most contentious letter of the alphabet. We learned about the strange rise of Denglisch, or English-German hybrid words; the racial history of the “grandfather clause”; what’s so Chinese about a Chinese fire drill; and about the Slants, an Asian-American band that’s trying to trademark its name.
The Atlantic gave us 20 years of dumb new words while The New Statesman traced the 500-year history of trying to make irony more easily understood. In the land of dude, Allan Metcalf examined the origins of the word dude and The Atlantic recounted a brief history of its usage.
Arika Okrent rounded up eight things she learned from being corrected by Mental Floss readers; explained why ghost is spelled with an h; and listed 11 suffixes that give us new, often terrible words. James Harbeck gave us a brief history of African click words and told us about the word zarf.
Ben Zimmer explained how sugarcoating moved from the pharmacy to the White House, revealed the hidden history of the word glitch, and told us about Schwa Fire, “a digital publication that will marry language geekery with long-form journalism.”
At Macmillan Dictionary blog, Michael Rundell told us the stories behind the words iconoclast and loophole, while Stan Carey discussed apharesis,“the dropping of an initial sound or sounds of a word.” At Lingua Franca, Anne Curzan related sports in everyday speech and Allan Metcalf considered the rise of hey over hi.
Word Spy spotted Copenhagenization, “the process of making a city safer and more accessible for bicyclists and pedestrians,” presumably like Copenhagen, Denmark; nasty effect, “the polarization of opinions on a particular topic caused by exposure to uncivil commentary about that topic”; and glowing rectangle, “a mocking or satiric reference to a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or computer screen.”
We loved these 19th-century criminal slang terms and these delightful idioms from Victorian times. We drooled over this list of 15 famous authors and their fashion label counterparts (one Edith Wharton please!).
As for this cool bookish place called Bookworm Gardens: we want to go to there.
That’s it for this week!
[Photo: Via WIRED]