August 28, 2013 |
The latest sign that the apocalypse is nigh arrived Wednesday when the eggheads behind Britain's Oxford Dictionaries announced plans to add four words that are hard to say without gagging a little. But, for the sake of illuminating our readers, we shall do our best to share them here. For, lo, their ascension into the mainstream reveals so much about the decline and fall of pop culture. Brace yourself. PHOTOS: Biggest tech flops of 2013 -- so far Selfie : This refers to the smartphone self-portraits that people take.
August 14, 2013 |
Helping a kid pack for college is like going on a scavenger hunt. For the last few days, my wife and I have been working with our son to clear out old clothes, old books, old souvenirs, to decide what he'll keep and what he'll discard as he heads east at the end of the week. We've found photos, notebooks, lost school projects, all of them touched, in some sense, with the weight of memory. This is what we have left of him as a young boy, as a kindergartner and a middle-schooler. Just last night, I spent half an hour or so paging through an eighth-grade project on Thomas Paine and a second-grade “Book of Sayings”: “You can lead a horse to water,” my son warns us, “but don't push him in.” Perhaps the week's most unexpected discovery was a 1975 Webster's Collegiate Dictionary , bound in leather and monogrammed in gold with my initials, which my mother gave me when I left home for school.
June 17, 2013 |
In the latest sign that social media is changing the way we speak and behave, the Oxford English Dictionary announced the inclusion of the definition of the word "tweet" in its latest update. John Simpson, the dictionary's chief editor, said "tweet" was added despite not having yet been used for 10 years, which is one rule the dictionary considers before adding a new word. But as Simpson says, the word "seems to be catching on. " The Oxford English Dictionary officially defines "tweet" as "a posting made on the social networking service Twitter" and as a verb, it is defined as "to post on Twitter.
May 15, 2013 |
Here ye, all you secret lovers of 19th century pornography. The august and decidedly non-pornographic Oxford English Dictionary needs your assistance. As the Guardian reports , the search began when one of the OED's teams of researchers began working on the dictionary's entry for “revirginize.” It's a verb whose earliest reference is in a very hard-to-find, quite possibly underground work of erotica published in 1852. Said book, titled “The Meanderings of Memory,” was written by an author who went by the handle of “Nightlark.” In all, some 51 OED definitions contain quotations from “The Meanderings of Memory,” including the noun “couchward,” (I have no idea what that means)
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 23, 2013 |
SACRAMENTO - At 855 pages, it has been lauded by linguists and anthropologists as the only dictionary of its kind: a comprehensive translation of Iu-Mien into English that doubles as a guide to the dying practices of a people who, beginning in 1975, fled the hills of Laos after aiding the CIA's secret war. Over the quarter-century it took to produce, much came to pass. For the Pasadena professor whose name graces the book's charcoal cover, there was the murder of a daughter, a house fire that consumed his nearly finished work and the gentle assistance of collaborators on three continents who helped him pick up the pieces.
March 7, 2013 |
In addition to my trusty “The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary,” Oxford University Press publishes countless specialized dictionaries - on modern slang, abbreviations, world place names, archaeology, music, politics, animal behavior - you name it. One book that has an honored place in my reference library is “ The Diner's Dictionary: Word Origins of Food & Drink ” by John Ayto ($24.95), which was first published in 1990, more than 20 years ago. The Oxford has just published the second edition and in the new introduction Ayto writes, "In the 20 and more years since this book first appeared, the food horizons of English-speakers have expanded with a rapidity only the boldest would have dared to predict....