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.
Ben Zimmer was a busy man, delving into Higgs boson metaphors, appreciating the Rolling Stones and their zeugmoids, and musing on how we talk about the “other” man or woman. He also discussed secret racist slurs, and at Language Log, commented on Jon Stewart’s, um, grammar wedgie and Stephen Colbert’s “foray into Ango-Saxon rhetoric.” Meanwhile, Geoffrey Pullum wondered why people were fiddling with spelling shibboleths, and Mark Liberman looked at the Caribbean “What??!!” and the zombie nouns of Helen Sword’s piece in The New York Times.
The bloggers at Johnson revisited data are, voiced support for linguistics and technology, and discussed Danish pronunciation. At Lingua Franca, Lucy Ferris explored the phrase I’m good; Allan Metcalf corrected his mistake about the acronym BFD; William Germano asked us if we nome sane?; and Ben Yagoda opined on courtesy titles and the Britishism, white van man.
At Macmillan Dictionary blog, Gill Francis asked if we had an issue around issues around; Simon Williams and Jules Winchester taught us how to say sorry like we mean it; and Stan Carey admitted to being semi-attached to semicolons. In other punctuation news, Motivated Grammar assured us that comma splices are historical and informal, but not wrong, and the New Yorker’s Questioningly challenge gave us a new punctuation mark, the bwam, or bad-writing apology mark, which requires the writer “to surround a sentence with a pair of tildes when ‘you’re knowingly using awkward wording but don’t have time to self-edit.’”
John McWhorter reviewed Geoffrey Nunberg’s new book, Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years, and talked about how LOL is its own language. In words of the week, Fritinancy noted thanatourism, “travel to destinations involving death and tragedy,” and MOOC, “an acronym for ‘massive open online course.’” Erin McKean spotted garrigue, a word “used to describe wines from the Rhône”; Rednecksploitation, exploitative films featuring “rednecks” or “hicks”; bingsu, Korean shaved ice; and glass cliff, a phenomenon in which “when women get appointed to leadership positions in the corporate world, a disproportionate amount of time they’re facing a dire situation.”
Lynneguist told us the difference between bed sizes in American and British English, while Sesquiotica explained the difference between sofa and couch. The Virtual Linguist kicked around kickshaw and some minced oaths. Oz Words compared canetoads and cockroaches. io9 wondered if people of different races have different voices. The Dialect Blog discussed the “father-bother split” in New England accents; that phrase right thurr; the adverbial wicked; and the pronunciation mysteries of theater and cinema.
This week we also learned that students in east London schools will be taught Cockney rhyming slang; that autocorrect is creating a new Chinese slang; and internet words are being added to a revised Chinese dictionary. Collins Dictionary is inviting the public to submit new words, and as always, you can sbmit new words to Wordnik by adding a tag or a definition in the Comments field.
We loved this tiny lending library in New York, these libraries repurposed from unused structures, and these cleverly organized stacks of books. We laughed at the best of Ralph Wiggum, and wished that we had gone to these fictional schools. We’re not sure about this Jane Austen video game, and had flashbacks reading these bad endings of Choose Your Own Adventure books.
That’s it for this week!