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:

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

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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

Dictionaries to the Rescue

mw-tweet

The morning after the election, I tweeted something along the lines of, “If there is a silver lining to the election of Donald Trump, it’s that it should inspire a lot of good punk rock and metal over the next four years.”

Little did I know that, in addition to these forthcoming musical gems, this knuckle head’s rise to power would also get the folks behind some of our lexicographical institutions all fired up!

This whole thing started last Sunday, when Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told Chuck Todd of NBC that that Trump Press Secretary Shawn Spicer was offering “alternative facts” when he told reporters that, “[The crowd at Trump’s swearing-in] was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.”

Not missing a beat, Merriam-Webster began making fun of the Trump administration through its Twitter feed, taking Conway to task for trying to sell “alternative facts” as, you know, a thing.
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“A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality,” the dictionary company said in a  tweet that linked to a Merriam-Webster posting about how look-ups for the word “fact” spiked after Conway’s comment.

As awesome as that initial ribbing was, the story continues to get better as Merriam-Webster has continued to school the Trump administration on its use of words … or at least it’s attempts to use them.

And so, for its continued efforts to educate our “president,” as well as for its success in making dictionaries cool again, we here at the ARLCP tip our hats to Merriam-Webster. Hence our decision to make this lexicographical kerfluffle our “News Item of the Week.”

For more on the dictionary’s revenge, see the following articles:

Subtweet (v.): What Merriam-Webster Dictionary Is Doing to the President
NBCNews.com

Did a dictionary diss Trump team’s ‘alternative facts’?
Politico.com

The dictionary that’s one of Trump’s funniest fact checkers
WCTI12.com

Trump Derangement Syndrome? Urban Dictionary has bashed president every day since inauguration
Washington Times

We Talked to the Genius Behind the Viral Merriam-Webster Twitter Account
Broadly.vice.com