Language Blog Roundup: Tom Clancy, fauxlibuster, Banned Books Week

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.

We were saddened this week by the passing of Tom Clancy, best-selling author of books such as The Hunt for Red October and Patriot Games. He was 66.

The Atlantic explained the “double absurdity” of Ted Cruz’s filibuster, or fauxlibuster. Meanwhile Mayor Emanuel Rahm of Chicago is experimenting with librarian-less libraries (which remind us of a creepy Doctor Who episode).

For Banned Books Week, HuffPost Books gave seven reasons why some of our favorite book are banned and 11 of the most surprising banned books, including the dictionary. In good news, after much furor and ridicule, a North Carolina school board lifted a ban on the classic Ralph Ellison novel, The Invisible Man.

For Punctuation Day, Mark Allen lauded the most elegant of marks, the semicolon. Slate gave us the history of the pilcrow while The Daily Beast took a look at the SarcMark, used to indicate sarcasm. Fritinancy celebrated with a roundup of brand names that use punctuation in interesting, and not so interesting, ways.

The Guardian told us 10 grammar rules that we can forget. The OxfordWords Blog rounded up some English words of Dutch origin. At Language Log, Victor Mair discussed the various pronunciations of the word for brothers in Mandarin, and the problem with calling Uyghur a Chinese dialect.

At Macmillan Dictionary blog, Liz Potter told the stories behind the words unfriend and keirin, Japanese for “racing wheels”; and Stan Carey took a bite out of the idiom, have your cake and eat it (too).

Ben Zimmer examined how “Fed-watchers” are remaking the calendar and looked at the origin of the word desi with the crowning of the first Miss America of South Asian heritage.

James Harbeck looked at six quests to fix the messed-up spelling of English. Arika Okrent examined the post-military taxonomy of don’t ask, don’t tell.

Fritinancy’s words of the week were 909er, “a resident of Southern California’s Inland Empire,” and the Breaking Bad-inspired chirality. Speaking of Breaking Bad, Time told us the meaning behind the phrase.

World Wide Words delved into the history of a rare word, gargalesis, forced tickling. Hanna Rosin examined a new meaning of fiance.

Word Spy spotted throuple, three people in a romantic relationship; empathy game, “a video game genre that uses intense, personal stories to create an emotional connection with the player”; backfire effect, “the strengthening of a person’s belief in a false idea by presenting evidence against that idea”; and screen sightedness, “myopia caused by too much time spent indoors staring at small screens.”

Scientific American investigated how language may shape the perception of genetically modified foods while Gizmodo revealed the origins of 11 common drinking phrases.

We learned that on Facebook women talk about shopping and men curse, a thing or two about the double-is, and the etymology of cool. We found out about the language of signs and that Drew Barrymore has a giant dictionary collection.

We loved this map of most popular baby names in each state, these lost “slumgullions” of English and these lovely untranslatable words from other cultures. We want to own all these coffee mugs for book lovers.

Enjoy our word nerd discoveries? Be sure to check out more weird and wonderful favorite finds in our weekly roundup over on our sister site, Reverb, Favorite Finds Roundup: Stephen Hawking, mac ‘n’ cheese burger, beaver butts (you heard us: beaver butts).

Until next time!

[Photo via CNN]