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.
A language war ensued this month when two New Yorker writers, Joan Acocella and Ryan Bloom, took a stance again descriptivism. Never fear: Ben Zimmer, Nancy Friedman, Christopher Shea, the Dialect Blog, and Johnson, the Economist’s language blog, all weighed in on descriptivism’s side.
In politics, we learned that Mitt Romney wants a better “Amercia” (improved, apparently, by a name change) and were delighted by the subsequent snarky tumblr. Ben Zimmer noted the backronym of the week, the Ex-PATRIOT Act, while at Language Log, Mark Liberman discussed the speech levels in politics.
Also at Language Log, Liberman had a few things to say about the word hopefully, including the history of the word and hopefu(ly) grammar, while Geoff Nunberg gave his two cents as well. Victor Mair gave us some mistranslation “tips from the British royal breast” and analyzed this poetic piece of Chinglish, and Julie Sedivy explored some shocking shades of gray lingo.
The Macmillan Dictionary blog rounded up their bloggers’ favorite words that aren’t found in English. At Lingua Franca, Allan Metcalf discussed the importance of names and lexicography as the oldest profession, and Ben Yagoda took us to an article-less prom. At The New York Times, Yagoda identified the most comma mistakes, while at The Boston Globe, Zimmer opined on the golden age of proverbs.
Stan Carey explained the interstellar etymology of mazel tov, the word fell, and reflected on the reflexive, themself. Fritnancy’s words of the week were ganja-preneur, an entrepreneur dealing in ganja, or marjuana, and rampture, “the traffic congestion that’s expected to ensue after the closing of Wilshire Boulevard on- and offramps to (the) northbound I-405 on Los Angeles’s Westside.”
Erin McKean spotted over-sharenting, “the tendency for parents to share a lot of information and photos of their kids online”; social jet lag, “discrepancy between your natural body clock and your social clock”; Geuro, a “Greek parallel currency to the euro”; and green shoe, a reserve used by underwriters “in successful IPOs. . .to meet soaring demand.” Meanwhile, Word Spy caught unsourcing, “transferring company functions from paid employees to unpaid volunteers, particularly customers on social networks.”
The Dialect Blog explored place names, Sean Connery’s apical /s/, and the Brooklyn accent. Sesquiotica examined the word cicisbeo, “the recognized gallant of a married lady,” and delicious risotto. The Virtual Linguist served up the origin of the word tea, while Oz Words gave us the history of vegemite. We learned of a new fruit, the papple, which “looks and tastes like an apple but has the skin and texture of a pear,” and that America’s favorite condiment, ketchup, actually came from a Chinese word.
Finally, we had a huge laugh over these names that Donald Trump trademarked. Our favorite? Donald J. Trump, the Fragrance.
That’s it for this week!