This Week’s Language Blog Roundup: Superstorm, Romnesia, and more

by Angela Tung on November 2, 2012

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.

Earlier this week, superstorm Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on Cuba, Haiti, and much of the U.S. northeast. At The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal helped us sort the fake Sandy pictures from the real, while Jen Doll provided a dictionary of storm words.

Photo credit: The Atlantic

We also fell in love with Lydia Callis, Mayor Bloomberg’s American Sign Language interpreter, and learned why sign language interpreters are so expressive.

In politics, Philip Resnick at Language Log discussed the linguistic angle of acts of terror. President Obama coined Romnesia, a blend of Romney and amnesia, and Ben Zimmer explained surrogate, Obama’s “is is,” and some political portmanteaus. Fritinancy talked bayonets while Allan Metcalf told us how to talk presidential. Finally, we learned some Mittisms and the problem with Sarah Palin’s shuck and jive.

In The New York Times, Helen Sword took on verbification and Ben Yagoda considered the versatile em dash. Maddie York at Mind Your Language wondered where all the adverbs had gone, while Johnson stood proud for adjectives.

At Lingua Franca, Ben Yagoda expounded on euphemisms and the word douchebag. Geoff Pullum commented on taboo words, the phrase illegal immigrant, and some Frankenwords. Allan Metcalf explained the origins of trick or treat.

At Macmillan Dictionary Blog, Orin Hargraves delved into miscreant word behavior. Stan Carey updated us on Google’s Ngram Viewer 2.0, and on his own blog, explored would of, could of, might of, must of and ancient Irish names. Kory Stamper shared her response on logic and etymology. Grammar Girl explained ghost words (not the scary kind), while we offered some ghostly words (the scary kind).

In words of the week, Fritinancy cringed (or maybe we just did) at curlbro, “a pejorative slang term referring to gym-goers [who] focus on training their arms when weight lifting,” and pointed out postapocalit, “novels set in an imaginary North American wilderness after the unthinkable happens.”

Erin McKean spotted banging the beehive, “in which high-speed traders send a flood of orders in an effort to trigger huge price swings just before the data hit”; Bibendum, “the stacked-tire figure better known as the Michelin man”; and boro, “a fabric from the bygone Japanese tradition of roughly patching clothing and bedding to extend its use for generations.”

The Dialect Blog discussed N’Awlins and other abbreviations and compared shall and will. Lynneguist explored the American English untranslatable, visit with; BBC America rounded up 10 Americanisms adopted by Brits; and Oz Worders told us the story of the blue-arsed fly. Meanwhile, the Virtual Linguist explained the origins of toast, “a person or thing that is defunct, dead, finished, in serious trouble, etc”; earworm; blood rain; and Vinglish.

This week we learned about tone deafness and emotion; that Chaucer coined the word twitter; and about language lessons told through Twitter. We found out why we say pardon my French, some Chinese fashion buzzwords, and about slang in the dictionary.

The Atlantic gave us some prison lingo while Jonathan “Mr. Slang” Green told us about slang words for the poor throughout history. We wondered if there were Rosetta Stone tapes for the language of Cloud Atlas, this conlang from a woman’s point of view, umlaut happy Volapük, and coffee talk.

That’s it for this week!

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