ARL Archive · Reference News Roundup

Reference News Roundup (Vol. 6)

newspaper-peepsHello Papercutters!

I haven’t done a Reference News Roundup in a while, so I decided to right that wrong with the following batch of reference- and word-related news items from the past week (give or take a few days).

Happy reading and Enjoy!

I. NEWS ITEM(S) of the WEEK

Kory Stamper, associate editor at Merriam-Webster and author of the new book Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries , is EVERYWHERE these days. (Good for her and good for dictionaries.) In fact, she’s so omnipresent that, instead of just offering you one News Item of the Week, I’m giving you four — all of which center around her in some way.

How do new words get in the dictionary?
Boingboing.net

Kory Stamper, author of the new book Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries describes three criteria Merriam-Webster uses for inclusion of words like truther, binge-watch, photobomb and the 1,000 other words that make the cut in a typical year.

Suffixery
The Chronicle of Higher Education (blog)

“So in speech, I don’t police people’s speech. I think that’s jerkery (ph) of the highest order when people do that,” [says associate editor of Merriam-Webster, Kory Stamper].

I love the “ph.” It means that the transcriber was not familiar with jerkery, found nothing when looking it up in Merriam-Webster and other dictionaries (including UrbanDictionary.com!), and thus offered a phonetic spelling. But Stamper didn’t make up jerkery.

Sorry, English teachers: ‘Irregardless’ is a word, dictionary writer says
Des Moines Register.com

“Everyone literally hates this word,” said Stamper, who visits Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City on [recently] to promote her new book, Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries. “But it’s been around for 200 years. It has a clear definition and regular usage. So, mad props to you, ‘irregardless.'”

Collingswood dictionary editor explains inclusion of N-word, profanity
Philly Voice.com

Charged with editing the very text used to determine which words are words and which words are not, Kory Stamper knows the power of language — for good or bad.

II. WORDS & PHRASES

What Are Sheeple? Apple Users Are In New Merriam-Webster Dictionary Definition
International Business Times

Apple fanboys have always had a reputation for undying loyalty to the brand, but Merriam-Webster is taking that characterization to a new level by using them as an example for new dictionary entry “sheeple.”

Words of the Week: “Knock for a Loop”
Bozeman Daily Chronicle.com

We American English speakers have thousands of colorful expressions at our disposal. A listener recently brought an exemplary one to my attention: knock for a loop, meaning to surprise or stun. As in: getting fired without notice knocked me for a loop. We sometimes get thrown for a loop, too, which means the same thing.

‘Wicked’ Interesting: Merriam-Webster Explores Rise Of New England’s Favorite Word
Boston.CBSlocal.com

New England and “wicked” go together like peanut butter and Fluff. But what’s the story behind the word that has flourished in Massachusetts and the northeast corner of the United States? The folks at Merriam-Webster Dictionary tried to shed some light on its origins, tweeting Thursday “This is how ‘wicked’ became an adverb.”

Imposter Syndrome enters the Oxford English Dictionary
Cambridge Network.co.uk

Colloquial usage of the term impostor syndrome has grown recently, so much so that the term is now one of the new entries into the Oxford English Dictionary.  In fact, the impostor phenomenon was first referred to in academic circles back in 1978, but it has recently developed another life as the impostor syndrome and is being used (incorrectly) to refer to any lack of confidence or self-doubt.

III. DICTIONARIES

Meet the people who are making the dictionary relevant again
Metro.US

To many, a dictionary has likely gone the way of beepers, payphones and writing by hand, but for the folks at Merriam-Webster, they’re just doing what they’ve been doing for the past 186 years.

Tech Jargon Confusing You? Use this Online Dictionary
Guidingtech.com

Are you enthralled by the numerous developments that tech has to offer but often get bogged down due to the complex tech concepts and terminology? Here is a dictionary to explain it to you like you were a child.

Chinese to English, Urdu dictionary launched
Pakobserver.net

Deputy Consul General of China Wang Daxue and Prof. Dr. Nizamudin, Chairman Punjab Higher Education Commission Friday launched the first-ever “Chinese to English and Urdu Dictionary” along with the second edition of Chinese Learning book.

IV. ENCYCLOPEDIAS

Turkey bans Wikipedia, labeling it a ‘national security threat’
Star Democrat.com

If you try to open Wikipedia in Turkey right now, you’ll turn up a swirling loading icon, then a message that the server timed out. Turkey has blocked Wikipedia. If you’re inside the country, you can only access the online encyclopedia through a virtual private network connection to a system outside the country.

Introducing an Online Encyclopedia of Inuit Arctic Observations
News Deeply.com

Siku, an online tool that recently won a $750,000 grant from Google, aims to pull together native knowledge about dangerously thin sea ice and other conditions in the Arctic’s fast-changing landscape.

V. OTHER WORDY BUSINESS

Dumbing down Shakespeare: Are Americans too intellectually lazy to appreciate his genius?
Washington Post.com

The fact that many theater companies seem to believe they can fulfill their classical mandates with only the most widely known plays, or worse, sacrifice more challenging plays to the popular-entertainment demands of the box office, makes [the author] wonder whether these are signs of a deeper problem.

10 Words That Will Make You Sound Smarter at Work
Time.com

If you’re looking to stretch your workplace vocabulary without sounding like a pretentious asshole, here are some suggestions.

[And if you don’t care what those assholes at the office think about you, just keep talking as normal….]

That’s it for this installment. If you want to see previous issues of the Reference News Roundup, click the following links:

RNR (vol.5)
RNR (vol.4)
RNR (vol.3)
RNR (vol.2)
RNR (vol.1)

ARL Archive · Reference News Roundup

Reference News Roundup (Vol. 5)

newspaper-peepsGreetings Papercutters!

It’s Friday … and I’ve got my proverbial shit together, so you know what that means: it’s time for another installment of the Reference News Roundup!

Once again, I’ve corralled the latest word, dictionary, and reference-related news and put it all together so you don’t have to go looking for it! I know, that might not sound like much, but I’ve been drinking, so pulling this together was a bit tougher than usual!

But hey, you don’t want to hear about me, so let’s get right to it, shall we? As usual, I’ll kick things off with my news item of the week.

Thanks for reading!

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NEWS ITEM OF THE WEEK:

This one isn’t really about words, dictionaries, or references, but it’s super awesome, which is why I’ve given it top billing. Dig it.

Night time word vigilante goes out in dead of night to correct signs with rogue apostrophes

By day the he is a highly-qualified professional with his secret known only to a handful of close family and friends.

But at night he becomes a shadowy figure who patrols the streets of Bristol, armed with his homemade ‘apostrophiser’ and purpose-built trestle.

His specially-made tool reaches the higher signs on shopfronts and road signs, replacing or covering rogue apostrophes wherever he sees them.

WORDS:

Trump says he has the ‘best words.’ Merriam-Webster disagrees (Op-Ed)

Words, like facts, have absolute meanings and spellings, despite Trump’s efforts to revise both.

Meet the Woman Behind Merriam-Webster’s Viral Twitter Account

After Ivanka Trump told CBS’ Gayle King that she didn’t know “what it means to be complicit,” Merriam-Webster took up the case.

How did the word “liberal” become a political insult? (UK)

Liberal is becoming a political insult. Used in such a fashion, it has little or no determinate meaning. Instead, it denotes that the liberal in question is wealthy and, precisely because he or she is doing well, out of touch with people who are not. It’s a stupid usage, and it is time to speak for liberal Britain, or at least to ask who can do so.

DICTIONARY ADDITIONS:

I’m just going to say it: the addition of these stupid, trendy words smacks of desperation and I wish dictionaries, whether in print or online, would cut it out. I mean, “hangry”? Who the fuck will be saying that in five years? Make it stop.

Weed Rules At Dictionary.com: 420, ‘Dabbing’ And ‘Kush’ All Included

Hangry, struggle bus and smackdown among 300 “new” words

LANGUAGE & USAGE:

You can now spell ‘Earthling’ with a capital ‘E,’ and here’s why

Hear ye, hear ye! From this point forth, and for the rest of time, it shall be permissible to spell the word “Earthling” with a capital “E” — just so long as you are judicious about it and don’t overuse the term as a synonym for humans, okay?

This ruling comes to you via The Washington Post copy desk and the fine folks at the Merriam-Webster dictionary after a spelling debate that called into question the dignity of humanity itself.

Universities are telling students to use “gender-neutral” language or be penalized

Universities are telling students that they should use “gender-neutral” language in their essays, or risk being marked down.

[Editorial remark: I am sensitive to and a user of non-sexist language, but this is ridiculous. Here’s to hoping this is “fake news.”]

DICTIONARIES OF ….

Merriam-Webster editor on her new book — and why dictionaries matter

” A dictionary is a living record of a living language, and they’re important because language is important to us.”

‘It’s part of what makes people Canadian’: Updated dictionary compiles ‘Canadianisms’

An updated dictionary provides a fascinating look at words and expressions distinctively Canadian, with entries from “all-dressed” to “zed.”

Beloved lexicon for wordsmiths

Dictionaries are not closed archives but ceaseless endeavours; mere fractions of an impossible whole. They are “glorious gallimaufries”, observes the writer Robert Macfarlane in his own comprehensive glossary of place-words, immediately driving us all back to our dictionaries to discern his meaning.

A Modern Dictionary Of London Terms

“London changes so fast, [the writers of this piece] decided it was time to create a dictionary of contemporary words and phrases.”

[Editorial remark: It’s basically a list of terms snarkily defined. Think The Devil’s Dictionary, but not as clever.]

A Visual Dictionary for Sign Language

Although American Sign Language, used by 250,000 people in the United States, is widely recognized as a rich, complex language, ASL learners and researchers have never enjoyed the kind of large, comprehensive database available in other languages—until now.

ENCYCLOPEDIAS:

Clark Professor’s Encyclopedia of LGBTQ Studies Named Best Reference Title

The text includes over 400 signed entries by top researchers and clinicians from the fields of psychology, sociology, human development and gender/queer studies and offers an appendix with information on organizations, journals and websites related to various topics within the larger field of LGBTQ studies. It was designed for undergraduate students, graduate students, scholars of LGBTQ sexualities and lives, and others.

New Pa. German encyclopedia includes the devil even

This is a comprehensive study of Pennsylvania German history, geography, culture, society, the arts and anything else that relates to the unique people — plain and fancier — who live in or have migrated from central Pennsylvania.

Remembering encyclopedias

“I bought an Encyclopedia Britannica so my kids could do all their school research at home. It came with its own bookcase. It was classy. I felt smart.”

[Editorial remark: I don’t thing this guy was really into encyclopedias at all….]

ARL Archive · Reference News Roundup

Reference News Roundup (Vol.4)

newspaper-peepsHello Papercutters! It’s time once again for a Reference News Roundup (RNR) courtesy of your friends at the Anachronist Reference Library.

Before we get started, let me say:

1. Thanks for reading and, if you dig this kind of thing, follow the blog and share this with your friends.
2. You can also follow me on Twitter @Joe3atARL.
3. Finally, should you feel inclined, drop me a line if you want to comment on or chat about any of the issues raised here.

Alright, let’s get right to it, shall we? As usual, I’ll start with this episode’s …

___________________________

NEWS ITEM OF THE WEEK:

The Secret Life of Dictionaries is a bittersweet look at the disappearing reference book
Kory Stamper’s narrative of life as an editor at Merriam-Webster – “America’s oldest dictionary company” – is consistently wry and amusing, but a sadness persists in the telling. It is the sadness of good things doomed to disappear. The good thing in this case is the hefty, one-volume print dictionary with nearly every phrase and sentence the product of pure verbal craftsmanship.

Editor’s Note: Enough with the learned helplessness of the Digital Age. Things like dictionaries will only disappear if we let them. If you like having a dictionary around, go out and buy one.

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ON DICTIONARIES AND LANGUAGE

Here’s Why “On Fleek” Isn’t in the Dictionary, Yet (Interview)
In her new book, Word By Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries, Kory Stamper spins various adventures in lexicography with exuberance and wit to spare. Unlike what you might think about the dictionary, Stamper is out to prove language and word usage don’t have to be super-rigid. You can use “literally” in all kinds of ways, and there are many plural of octopus.

Connections: New words added to the dictionary, and how language evolves
Merriam-Webster and the Oxford Dictionaries have added more than 1,000 new words to their databases. Some of the words, like “microagression” and “safe space” have been used for years, but have gained enough popularity to be added now. Other words and phrases, like “humblebrag” and “face-palm” are raising questions because they seem trendy and like slang.

English language ‘organised’ itself for centuries: study
The English language has effectively organised itself for centuries, even without any kind of oversight or control from an official body, according to a new study.

What’s a bunnyhug? The new edition of the Dictionary of Canadianisms
Do you know what a “bunnyhug” is? How about the Big-O? They’re just a couple of Canadianisms – words with their own specific meaning in Canada, and both found in the soon to be released second edition of the Dictionary of Canadianisms.

Washington Post and Jigsaw launch a collaborative pop-up dictionary of security jargon
Information security’s biggest obstacle isn’t the mere insecurity of so many of our tools and services: it’s the widespread lack of general knowledge about fundamental security concepts, which allows scammers to trick people into turning off or ignoring security red flags. Explaining these concepts isn’t easy, but it can be done. To that end, Jigsaw — Google’s online safety division — and the Washington Post are creating a collaborative, visual pop-up dictionary that explains difficult security concepts with analogies, metaphors and images.

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ON ENCYCLOPEDIAS

Wikipedia Bans Daily Mail
An investigation by this paper has revealed how Wikipedia banned the Daily Mail as a source after just 53 out of its 30 million editors voted to do so.

China’s ‘biggest online encyclopedia’ apologizes for selling fake entries on its open platform
Hudong Baike has apologized for allowing fake content to be posted on its online encyclopedia platform. The apology followed an exposé by state broadcaster CCTV.

Editor’s Note: Are you sensing a trend with online references? I am. User beware.

A Comprehensive Encyclopedia On African Art Is In The Works
Writer and art historian, Nana Oforiatta-Ayim is taking on the enormous task of cataloguing art history from the continent.

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ON WORDS

What Does ‘Complicit’ Mean? SNL Skit Makes Word Most Popular Search On Merriam-Webster, Dictionary Says
Ivanka Trump’s eponymous perfume is a top-seller on Amazon.com, but “Saturday Night Live” gave her a new eau de parfum—and its name was Merriam-Webster’s most-searched word Sunday.

After two years —and three dictionaries — Florida court defines ‘sexual intercourse’
It took two years and three dictionaries, but the Florida Supreme Court finally determined Thursday that “sexual intercourse” isn’t just between a man and a woman.

13 words that no one uses anymore
Language expert Robbie Love, from Lancaster University, compiled the most popular words from the 1990s which have since declined the most drastically and the top words — not around in the in the 1990s — which are hugely popular today.

Capturing “Take” for the Dictionary
A Merriam-Webster editor’s knock-down, drag-out battle to define a deceptively small, innocent word.

‘Done and Done’
I texted my wife the other day asking whether she had walked the dog. She answered, “Done and done.” I was like, “Wait — what and what??”

Ed. Note: I say this all the time. What’s the big deal?

And the winner of best swear word is…
An analysis of more than 500,000 online product reviews found that [Britons use] this curse word more frequently than any other when giving negative feedback.

In a Word . . . Bell
Now there’s an intriguing word: campanology.

Editor’s Note: this article gives St. Patrick a passing mention. If you haven’t seen it, the ARL put up a post about this snake-driver on his feast day. Check it out.

Where the word ‘shroff’ came from, and its many meanings
Money changer, silver expert, customs officer, court money collector, cashier’s office – a word originally borrowed by English from India, which coined it from Arabic, has meant different things down the years.

The Secret Code Word for When the Queen Dies Has Been Revealed
When the Queen dies a exhaustive plan of how the nation will be told and what happens in following days and hours will swing into action. It includes a special code word for the Queen and a highly detailed plan with everything from her undertakers name to the number of pall bearers and the length of gunfire salute in her honor.

Is ‘hell’ a curse word?
Is ‘hell’ a curse word? Teens face the wrath of angry parents as they take part in ‘Hell Challenge’, asking their moms and dads if the word is profane, provoking some furious responses.

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Well, that’s it for this Reference News Roundup. To see past installments, visit the following:

RNR – Volume 1          RNR – Volume 2          RNR – Volume 3

 

 

ARL Archive · Reference News Roundup

Reference News Roundup! (vol. 2)

dics-on-fire
Don’t look now, but dictionaries are cool again. (And yes, this is a terrible graphic!)

Greetings Papercutters! It’s Sunday, so that means it’s time for a little RNR (aka: Reference News Roundup)!

I know, the RNR is supposed to be on Friday, but I posted something else last Friday, so I thought I’d do it now. Besides, let’s be honest … it really doesn’t matter.

Anyway ….

As mentioned last time, 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 (or should play) in it.

Not mentioned last time, because I didn’t include them, are two fun reference factoids that are not related to the week’s news, but still kinda fun and interesting nonetheless: a symbol of the week and an allusion of the week.

With that, I’ll say thanks for tuning in and, if you feel like discussing any of the contents below, leave a comment and we’ll chat!

Word.

PS) If you like what we’re doing here, link to it, share it on your channels, or tell your peeps the old-fashioned way and talk to them (or send a note via the trained bird of your choice).

___________________________

I. NEWS ITEMS OF THE WEEK:

Move Over, Wikipedia. Dictionaries Are Hot Again
New York Times

“Dictionaries are not regarded as sexy or interesting, but what dictionaries are known for is telling the truth,” said Jesse Sheidlower, a lexicographer and past president of the American Dialect Society. “Right now there are a lot of questions about what is true. We want clear statements about what things are, and dictionaries provide that.”

[By the way, this item is our News Item of the Week!]

How the Word ‘Terrorism’ Lost Its Meaning
CBC News

Terrorism is political invective, nothing more. It’s a great favorite of demagogues, widely accepted by audiences, and is almost always applied exclusively to the other, never to ourselves.

Merriam-Webster Adds New Words
Times-Tribune (Scranton)

In addition to elevating “surreal” in 2016 to word of the year, the dictionary company on Tuesday added about 1,000 new words and new definitions to existing listings on its website, Merriam-Webster.com.

Additional articles on this matter. The first does a good job of putting this news about Merriam-Webster’s additions in some sort of context:

Merriam-Webster Keeps Up with the Times
MassLive.com

To maintain any usefulness in the modern age, the dictionary cannot be only an archive of traditional language. It must be a living, breathing document that changes with the times.

Check Out Which Sports Words Have Been Added to the Dictionary
Dayton Daily News

Since we can’t be bothered to learn the real words for things anymore, Merriam-Webster has made a regular habit out of adding new ones to the dictionary to make things easier. The latest crop is out, and it includes a few from the world of sports.

‘Plyscraper’ Named Word of the Year Finalist
ArchitectureNow

Among the lesser-known finalists in Australia’s Macquarie Dictionary’s 2016 Word of the Year choices was the word “plyscraper,” which has been spawned from a building typology with growing popularity around the world.

II. And Now for Some Stuff that Wasn’t in the News:

anchor
From the A Dictionary of Symbols

Symbol of the Week

Anchor: A sign of Hope for “Boatloads” of Christians

In the emblems, signs and graphic representations of the early Christians, the anchor always signified salvation and hope. It was often shown upside down, with a star, cross or crescent to denote its mystic nature.

– A Dictionary of Symbols

Attribute of various sea gods — because the anchor symbolizes a ship’s only stability during a storm — it is a symbol of hope, especially in Christian symbolism (appearing frequently on grave stones and coffins), and a symbol of consistency and fidelity. It was used as a secret symbol (anchor cross) in early Christianity by the addition of a crossbar.

Continuum Encyclopedia of Symbols

alcyone

Allusion of the Week

Halcyon Days

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Allusions defines “halcyon days” as calm, peaceful days, a happy golden period; prosperous, affluent times.

Halcyon is the Greek name for the bird we know as the kingfisher. The ancient Greeks believed the bird nested at sea at the winter solstice and calmed the waves while it incubated its eggs. This halcyon period lasted 14 days.

There is an explanation in Greek mythology, of course. Halcyon was the daughter of of Aeolus, god of the winds. She was married to a mortal who died at sea, and threw herself into the ocean to be near him. The gods changed them both to kingfishers–it is unclear whether this was an act of compassion or anger.

There’s only one problem with this explanation. According to both the Dictionary of Classical Mythology, Religion, Literature, and Art and the Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology, it seems Aeolus’s daughter was named Alcyone, not Halcyon.