This Week’s Language Blog Roundup: Words of the Year, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, movies

by Angela Tung on December 21, 2012

Word Cloud of Gov. Jindal's GOP response to Obama's speech

Word Cloud, by Jason-Morrison

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.

It’s raining words of the year! The American Dialect Society has geared up for their January announcement of 2012’s word of the year by putting out the call for nominations. Meanwhile, the Australian National Dictionary Centre chose green-on-blue, “(used in a military context) an attack made on one’s own side by a force regarded as neutral.”

Collins Dictionary had 12 favorites, and Ben Zimmer rounded up some standouts, including superstorm, Eastwooding, and fiscal cliff. Fritinancy shared her choices, such as ermahgerd, gaylo, and pink slime, as well as her names of the year.

Laura Slattery at The Irish Times wrote about 2012’s words in regards to women (slutshaming, binders, legitimate rape). Jen Doll gave us the A to Z of the year’s worst words (speaking of which, Mark Liberman considered some not-great euphemisms for the much maligned moist) while Geoff Nunberg told us to forget YOLO and focus on big data instead. Finally, the AV Club listed the year in band names.

Yesterday celebrated the 200th anniversary of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. We loved these illustrations, National Geographic’s interactive tale teller, and this piece on the cultural legacy of the often gruesome stories.

In movie news, Ben Zimmer explored the language of Lincoln, including anachronisms, and The Hollywood Reporter wondered if the cursing in the film was accurate. Meanwhile, the OUP Blog told us about the naming of Hobbits, while we explored ten of our favorite journey words.

In other language news, Johnson discussed the internet and language and a problematic BBC piece, as well as the origins of the word bork. At Language Log, Mark Liberman took down The New Yorker for claiming that the Constitution is ungrammatical, and Geoff Pullum ranted about “prescriptivist poppycock” around that and which.

Victor Mair looked at English loanwords in Cantonese and Chinese character amnesia. In other Chinese language news, we learned a neologism, nail house, referring to “homes belonging to people who refuse to make room for development,” and likened to “to nails that are stuck in wood, and cannot be pounded down with a hammer.”

At Lingua Franca, Ben Yagoda explored vogue vague nouns and wondered is that a thing? Lucy Ferriss discussed the language around gun control while Fritinancy delved into gundamentalist, “a person who goes beyond the language of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and takes his or her unrestricted right to bear arms as a tenet of religious or quasi-religious faith.”

At Macmillan Dictionary blog, Orin Hargraves felt used, and Stan Carey climbed the the steep rise of the fiscal cliff. On his own blog, Stan wondered how to pronounce GIF and if it really matters; explained who’s versus whose; and discussed the invented languages of Ithkuil and Blissymbols.

In words of the week, Erin McKean noted benne, “what sesame seeds are called in the Lowcountry, particularly in and around Charleston, S.C.”; sufganiyot, “Hanukkah-themed filled-donuts”; and one of our favorite words, twoosh, a tweet that uses all 140 characters.

Word Spy spotted sapiosexual, “a person who is sexually attracted to intelligent people”; self-interrupt, “to interrupt one’s own work to check social media or perform some other non-work-related task”; dozenalist, “a person who believes society should switch to a base-12 counting system instead of the current base-10 system”; and misophonia, “an extreme intolerance or hatred for certain sounds.”

Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing discussed literacy privilege and the dickishness of grammaticasters. Jonathan Green taught us some Yiddish slang. We learned some Japanese fish puns, about Ben & Jerry’s troubles with language laws in Quebec, and that Manchester, England is the most linguistically diverse city in Europe.

We also found out New York City is a graveyard of languages and enjoyed this literary tour of Manhattan. We were intrigued by lab lit, or laboratory literature; this newly discovered lizard named for President Obama (“Is this real?” tweeted one skeptical tweep); and these animal languages.

We enjoyed these “gobbledygook” words that are now common and these interesting words for common things. We loved these romantic expressions in other languages as well as learning how to laugh online in other languages.

Oh and hey, the world didn’t end, but you might still enjoy these apocalyptic words.

That wraps up our last Language Blog Roundup of the year, but stay tuned next week for something special.

Happy holidays!

[Photo: CC BY 2.0 by Jason-Morrison]

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