ARL Archive · Reference News Roundup

Reference News Roundup

newspaper-peepsGreetings Papercutters! It’s Friday, so that means it’s time for this week’s Reference News Roundup.

I know, this is the first one, so you didn’t know that Fridays and round-ups of reference news were linked. Well, they are, or at least they will be on most Fridays around here. So if this is your kind of thing, read on and, of course, tell your friends.

Note: This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of reference and reference-related news from the past week. Rather, the items contained herein are those that struck my fancy and/or say something important about our world and the role reference books play within it.

Thanks for tuning in and, if you feel like discussing any of the contents below, then leave a comment!

Word.

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I. Current Events

The OED is thinking about adding a batch of Trumpisms
Yahoo.com

The Oxford English Dictionary is considering fast-tracking a host of new Trump-related words into its hallowed pages.

Dictionaries Are Tracking Trumpian Word Usage To Update The English Language Accordingly
Huffingtonpost.com

How much power does an American president have? Enough, apparently, to issue executive orders considered unsound by ethicists. And enough to alter the language we use, as evidenced by dictionary updates centered on heads of state past and present.

Dictionary Searches for “Betrayal” Spike After Spicer’s Comments on Sally Yates Firing
Hollywoodreporter.com (!)

After the White House press secretary refused to define the word, Merriam-Webster responded with a lengthy definition.

Many looked to the dictionary for help on Tuesday to define “betrayal,” a word that played a large part in White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s news conference about the firing of acting Attorney General Sally Yates.

Merriam-Webster gets a little bit cheeky
USAToday.com

If dictionaries are supposed to be dry, and to the point, Merriam-Webster has officially broken the mold.

Merriam-Webster’s Twitter account has delighted the masses in the last few years by jumping into hot-topic issues with a dosage of the truth — or the definition at least.

We covered this in our first post. Check it out. (More articles on that page.)

II. Enclyclopedia News

Oslo Bookshop’s Fundraising Encyclopedia Draws Starry International Contributions
TheGuardian.com

A “subjective encyclopedia”, described by its creators as a “freak of publishing nature” designed to save a struggling Norwegian bookshop from closure, has proved a hit after a host of well-known names including Jarvis Cocker, George Saunders and Jonathan Lethem contributed entries.

The Inner Workings of Wikipedia
TheGuardian.com

Fifteen years ago, the idea of a free, digital encyclopedia, compiled and edited almost entirely by volunteers, and available at no cost to everyone, seemed like an idealistic fantasy. Today, Wikipedia offers millions of articles in hundreds of languages, and continues to grow every day. And it is easier than you might think to contribute to that growth.

They were once a pinnacle of science, and now they’re almost gone: Are encyclopedias obsolete?
ZMEscience.com

Today, encyclopedias are almost forgotten for all but a small number of nostalgics. Bookshops are rarely selling them anymore, old bookshops aren’t valuing them anymore, and even charities have a hard time giving them away.

Into the history books: Encyclopedias virtually ‘worthless’
TheNewDaily.com.au
They were once a huge investment for the family home and a vital part of any school library, but encyclopedias have now passed into history and can barely be given away.

All I’m going to say about these encyclopedia are worthless articles is that I used one for yesterday’s post.

III. New Additions, Words of the Year, and the Like

How ‘heaty’ and ‘cooling’ made it to the Oxford English Dictionary
SCMP.com

Cultural concepts, such as words used to describe the nature of foods in traditional Chinese medicine, are now part of the English language.

Dumpster Fire, Brexit, Fake News
Slate.com

Started in 1990 by a small group of linguists, Word of the Year has spread like a video of an anarchist punching a Nazi that’s been set to music.

HSP enters dictionary
Sheppnews.com.au

The rise in popularity of the Halal Snack Pack (HSP) has seen the fast-food item voted Macquarie Dictionary’s people’s choice word of the year for 2016.

IV. Slang and Newly Coined

Merriam-Webster and the ACLU finally settle the ‘woah’ vs ‘whoa’ debate
Yahoo.com

Merriam-Webster and the ACLU have teamed up to solve a long-running spelling debate: is it spelled “whoa” or “woah”?

The Dublin dictionary: 19 slang terms you need to have in your life
Dublinlive.ie

If you’re struggling to understand co-worker from Tallaght, or you just want to brush up on your Dublinese, here are some of our favourite phrases in translation.

V. History

Calamity, a name and a disaster
Maitlandmercury.com.au

Several versions are given on the origins of calamity. Many dictionaries say of this word “a disaster”. If we go back far enough, we find that the word comes from the Latin calamitas. My Macquarie says it refers to great trouble, adversity, misery or a great misfortune or a disaster.

Historian Gerald Smith Shares Favorite Tales From The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia
UKY.edu

University of Kentucky’s history professor and Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar in Residence Gerald L. Smith with colleagues, professor emeritus at Kentucky State University Karen Cotton McDaniel and professor of history at Western Kentucky University John A. Hardin published a 550-page tome of historical treasures, The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia, in 2015.
VI. WTF?

Survival and preparedness dictionary
Google.com

If you are new to the preparedness or survival mindset you may come across a lot of terminology and acronyms that you aren’t familiar with yet. Don’t be discouraged. The purpose of this article is to list some of those survival and preparedness terms and define them for you.

ARL Archive

Happy Anniversary OED!

oed-grabWhat up reference nerds? You may not know it, but today is a big day in lexicographical history!

According to History.com, “On this day in 1884, the first portion, or fascicle, of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), widely considered to be the most comprehensive and accurate dictionary in the English language, was published.”

The website continues:

Plans for the dictionary began in 1857 when members of London’s Philological Society, who believed there were no up-to-date, error-free English dictionaries available, decided to produce one that would cover all vocabulary from the Anglo-Saxon period (1150 A.D.) to the present. Conceived of as a four-volume, 6,400-page work, it was estimated the project would take 10 years to finish. In fact, it took over 40 years until the 125th and final fascicle was published in April 1928 and the full dictionary was complete–at over 400,000 words and phrases in 10 volumes–and published under the title A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles.

As you know if you’ve ever had the pleasure of looking at one, the OED not only provides the common, present-day meanings of words. It also gives detailed etymologies and detailed chronological histories for every word or phrase contained between its covers.

Surely, working on the same project for 40 years seems like the very “definition” (heh, heh, heh) of commitment, but wouldn’t you know it, as soon as the OED was completed the editors began updating it! That effort continues today. Here’s a short history of its updates:

• A supplement, containing new entries and revisions, was published in 1933 and the original dictionary was reprinted in 12 volumes and officially renamed the Oxford English Dictionary

• Between 1972 and 1986, an updated 4-volume supplement was published

• In 1984, Oxford University Press embarked on a five-year, multi-million-dollar project to create an electronic version of the dictionary

• In 1992, a CD-ROM version of the dictionary was released, making it much easier to search and retrieve information

• Today, the dictionary’s second edition is available online to subscribers and is updated quarterly with over 1,000 new entries and revisions.

dic-defSo, in honor of this historic day, we’re going to celebrate the only way we know how: by digging into the definition and etymology of the word fascicle.

According to my compact OED, fascicle is defined as “a bunch or bundle,” and there’s a note saying the term is “now only in scientific use” (which could explain why I’ve never encountered it). In fact, it is such an archaic and/or specialized term that the Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories doesn’t even have an entry for it.

Eric Partridge’s Origins: A Short Etymological History of Modern English does, however. The entry reads (in part):

1. Latin fasces, a bundle of authoritative rods, plural of fascis, a bundle.
2. Latin fascis is derived from fascio, a bundle, hence a political group, whence both fascismo, hence Fascism (how timely!)
3. Intimately related to Latin fascis is Latin fascia, a band (as in a band of cloth), and fasciare, meaning “to wrap with a band.”

Now see, this is what I love about dictionaries! Who knew that a post celebrating the publication of the OED would introduce us to the origin of the word fascist? You can’t make this stuff up … but you can read about it.

Behold the power of dictionaries!