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.
In lexicography scandals this week, The Guardian reported on a book which claims a former Oxford English Dictionary editor “secretly” deleted thousands of words, while Jesse Sheidlower, Ben Zimmer, and the author of the book, Sarah Ogilvie, all provided more context and put this non-scandal into perspective. In other dictionary news, Lifehacker offered an invaluable tech dictionary, while these rare dictionaries might go to auction for as much $1 million.
In other language news, Jen Doll at The Atlantic took a look inside the search for 2012’s word of the year (before she ranted politely about hyphens); Merriam Webster announced their choices, socialism and capitalism; and the OUP Blog discussed Place of the Year, Mars. Lynneguist requested nominations for British-English and American-English imports of the year, while the American Name Society asked for nominations for 2012 Name of the Year.
In other naming news, Laura Wattenberg, aka the Baby Name Wizard, explained the royal baby name process; we had fun with this Hobbit Name Game (ours is Rosie-Posie Chubb-Baggins); and, hey, did you catch our interview with professional namer Anthony Shore?
Ben Zimmer discussed the term fiscal cliff as well as how playwright Tony Kushner created “vintage 19th-century dialogue with contemporary vibrancy” in the film, Lincoln. Sally Thomason at Language Log took a look at the claim that English is a Scandinavian language. Johnson explored internet language, dictionaries and finding the right format, and Christmas cliches. Meanwhile, the OxfordWords Blog served up traditional Christmas foods.
At Lingua Franca, Geoff Pullum told us not to blame our bad moods on language and compared who and whom, while Allan Metcalf rounded up five rules for why new words survive. At Macmillan Dictionary blog, Gill Francis explored the funny side of omitted objects; Orin Hargraves discussed the language of internet dating; and Stan Carey compared anymore and any more. On his own blog, Stan considered the comma that muddles meaning, some howling ambiguities, and African American Vernacular English.
In words of the week, Erin McKean’s Wall Street Journal findings included spezzato, “a combination of jacket and trousers that’s not a matching suit”; exit host, a polite way of saying “bouncer”; and the bezzle, “the stock of undiscovered embezzled wealth that accumulates during the boom in a country’s business and banks.” Fully (sic) spotlighted the word ranga, a person with red hair, where ranga is “is an abbreviation of orang-utan (a primate with reddish-brown hair native to the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia).”
Word Spy spotted rooftopping, “taking photographs from the roof of a building, particularly one accessed illegally”; prepper, “a person who goes to great lengths to prepare for an emergency caused by a natural or man-made disaster”; misteress, “a man who has an extramarital affair with a woman”; and copyfraud, “a false or overly restrictive copyright notice, particularly one that claims ownership of public domain material.”
Fritinancy’s weekly word choices were nones, “a term used by religion scholars and pollsters to describe Americans unaffiliated with any religion – people who respond ‘none of the above’ in a survey about religious preference”; and Kabuki dance, “political posturing.” She also tried on the fashion word smoking slipper.
Other fashion words we learned this week were portmanteaus swacket, sweater jacket, and shacket, “blazer-meets-shirt,” for that “dapper casual” (dapsual?) look. Arnold Zwicky took a look at another word blend, replyallcalypse, the result of hitting “reply all” to 40,000 people.
Dialect Blog posted on “Americanized” non-American novels and French-English accents, and wondered: diphthong or L? In other accent news, we learned why some British singers sound American and why the brain doubt a foreign accent,
The Virtual Linguist explained the Pope’s Twitter handle, Pontifex. Superlinguo explored rude gestures and the origins of the phrase, [place] I am in you! Ozworders told us about schoolies and schoolies week.
This week we also had a quick Hinglish lesson, learned that World War I trench talk is now entrenched in the English language, and how to say Google in other languages. We loved these different names for eggs in toast, these favorite recipes of poets, these fictional foods, and these 30 Rock cocktails to celebrate Liz Lemon’s wedding. Speaking of which, we embraced geek and nerd as positive terms.
We were fascinated by these historical manias and this look at how the New York Times’ crossword puzzle is made. We loved these misheard lyrics and this Alice in Wonderland transit map. We felt old upon learning Schoolhouse Rock turned 40 this week, as Pong did last week. Then we had a Stabbing Robot and felt better.