This Week’s Language Blog Roundup

by Angela Tung on June 17, 2011

It’s Friday again, fellow word nerds, which means it’s time for our Language Blog Roundup, in which we bring you the highlights of our favorite language blogs and the latest in word news.

Yesterday was Bloomsday, and if you’re still jonesing for some Joyce, check out our blog post, which gives a bit of history and a roundup of all things Ulysses around the web.

Fritinancy’s vote for word of the week was the Streisand Effect, or the “backfiring of an attempt to hide or remove a piece of information,” named for Barbra herself when her “attempt in 2003 to suppress photographs of her residence inadvertently generated further publicity.”  Word Spy spied some excellent words including bacn and champagne problem. However, our favorite was timmolation, “the destruction of a person’s career or reputation caused by lewd or insensitive Twitter posts.” Speaking of which, The New York Times offered a medley of “my bads.”

The NYT also noted that justices seem to be turning more and more to the dictionary for help in the courtroom while Johnson, The Economist’s language blog, warned that the dictionary isn’t the law, at least not in a courtroom, and that “rather than rely on dictionaries, statute-writers should be as careful as possible to use words in the way that they are commonly understood (especially in quality edited writing).”

Johnson also noted a Chinese artist defying the laws of censorship with secret puns and homophones ( Fǎ Kè Yóu, you French-Croatian Squid!) while Wired deciphered the secret meanings in text message punctuationK International was excited about automatic sign language and “Tattúínárdœla Saga, the ‘Star Wars’ story rewritten in the style of the Old Norse Sagas and translated into Old Norse as well” (sure, why not).

Dialect Blog wondered when Americans stopped talking “British”; pondered the Scots-Irish influence on Appalachian English; and puzzled over the multiple meanings of the Irish dialect word, craic. The Virtual Linguist took a look at philogynist, the opposite of misogynist; bridewell, a lovely-sounding place but not a nice place to be; and grockle, a West-Country word for “tourist.” Arnold Zwicky came across some cool words too, including foofaraw and garmento, as well as several portmanteaus, such as murderabilia, viewmongous, mathemusician, and Newtiny.

Daily Writing Tips discussed the changing meanings of the word freak, while The Independent reported on one man’s war on cliches. Meanwhile, the Oxford University Press Blog proposed that teaching proper comma usage wouldn’t necessarily improve writing.

Language Log mused on minimal pairing and why some jokes won’t die (a priest, a rabbi, and the Dali Lama walk into a bar. . .). Stan Carey at Sentence First discussed the evolution of the language organism, while Boing Boing examined how visual perception varies across languages; the NSA Style Manual; and a house made of bookcases (in the inimitable words of Cory Doctorow: WANT).

In more “want” news, the British Library announced they would be releasing “more than 1,000 rare books [from their 19th-century collection] in the form of a single app for the iPad.”

Finally, you may have heard about the gentleman who was kicked off an airplane for swearing. He was speaking “Brooklynese,” he insisted, and claimed that Brooklynites “curse as adjectives.” Others would beg to differ.

That’s it from here.  Remember, if you have a tip or would like your language blog to be included in our weekly roundup, let us know in the comments, via email (feedback AT wordnik DOT com), or on Twitter.

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