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.
Early last week Maurice Sendak, beloved children’s writer, passed away. While we mourned his loss, we enjoyed his memory through these Sendak-esque Avengers on parade; Ben Zimmer’s piece about the wild words of children’s literature; and these hilarious interviews with Stephen Colbert (including this uncensored, NSFW one).
Speaking of dirty words, Johnson recounted the F-word in court; Arnold Zwicky reported on the reporting of the profane; the Dialect Blog wondered about the dirtiness of bloody; and Stephen Fry extolled the virtues of the “unnecessary” art of swearing.
In politics, Mighty Red Pen red-lined Mitt Romney’s grammar (mmm, pizza magnet); John Edwards’s defense team relied on the definition of the; and Barbara Partee at Language Log delved into weak definites. Meanwhile, at the Macmillan Dictionary blog, Stephen Bullon explained the origins of the left and the right.
Back at Macmillan, Orin Hargaves discussed English’s jumbled history; Gill Francis examined changing uses of “grammar” words; and Stan Carey looked at different ways of apologizing, and on his own blog, scared up some scary quotes and explored a skeptical Irish expression. At Language Log, Mark Liberman verbed some words and called some BS, while Ben Zimmer solved the mystery around a Sherlock Holmes “typo,” and at The Boston Globe got meta on the word meta.
At Lingua Franca, Ben Yagoda considered a racist word, while Allan Metcalf looked into generations and the word hip and the decline of ain’t. Fritinancy had it out with violent snacks, and for words of the week noted grasstops, “the leadership in a community or organization,” and wantologist, “a coach who sells his or her assistance to people unclear about what they want.” Erin McKean’s weekly wordy selections included belted lav, a passenger seat on a charter jet located in the bathroom; FPC, flavors per calorie; sauropod, a plant-eating dinosaur; and subluxation, misalignment in the joint.
Kory Stamper wrote a letter to a prospective lexicographer. The Virtual Linguist traced the history of the word cynic. The Dialect Blog posted on the impolite “please” and Pennsylvanian accents and dialect.
This week we also saw the rise of the twitchfork mob; thought about taking a long remode; and learned the difference between your and you’re from the fastest white rapper. We loved these punning policemen, these geeky insults, and this letter on plagiarism from Mark Twain to Helen Keller. We enjoyed these good portmanteaus and even these bad ones. Finally, we will immediately start incorporating these words and phrases from Game of Thrones into our vocabulary.
That’s it for next week! Till next time, here’s wishing you a wild rumpus.