Anthony Burgess’s lost dictionary of slang discovered

“The writer Anthony Burgess invented futuristic slang for his cult novel A Clockwork Orange and was so fascinated by the language of the street that he began work on a dictionary more than 50 years ago. Now his lost dictionary of slang, abandoned after several hundred entries covering three letters, has been discovered.

The work had been hidden in a vast archive of his papers and possessions held by the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, an educational charity in Manchester, where he was born a century ago.

Anna Edwards, the foundation’s archivist, told the Guardian: “We’re thrilled to be making such exciting and important discoveries as we’re cataloguing the collection.

(…)

What survives are 6×4 slips of paper on which each entry is typed. There are 153, 700 and 33 slips for the letters A, B and Z respectively.”

Read on at The Guardian

Entries in A from Anthony Burgess’s lost dictionary of slang

Abdabs (the screaming) – Fit of nerves, attack of delirium tremens, or other uncontrollable emotional crisis. Perhaps imitative of spasm of the jaw, with short, sharp screams.

Abdicate – In poker, to withdraw from the game, forfeiting all money or chips put in the pot.

Abfab – Obsolescent abbreviation of absolutely fabulous, used by Australian teenagers or ‘bodgies’.

Abortion – Anything ugly, ill-shapen, or generally detestable: ‘You look a right bloody abortion, dressed like that’; ‘a nasty little abortion of a film’ (Australian in origin).

Abyssinia – I’ll be seeing you. A valediction that started during the Italo-Abyssinian war. Obsolete, but so Joyceanly satisfying that it is sometimes hard to resist.

Accidental(ly) on purpose – Deliberately, but with the appearance of accident: ‘So I put me hand on her knee, see, sort of accidental on purpose.’ (Literary locus classicus: Elmer Rice’s The Adding Machine, 1923.)

Arse – I need not define. The taboo is gradually being broken so that plays on the stage and on radio and television introduce the term with no protest. The American Random House Dictionary … is still shy of it, however, though not of the American colloquialism ass. Arse is a noble word; ass is a vulgarism.

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Word of the Year: Behind the Scenes

How did the Merriam-Webster Dictionary choose surreal as their Word of the Year for 2016? Peter Sokolowski explains the data behind their decisions, and what that tells us about what people were thinking this year.

Surreal is Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year because it was looked up significantly more frequently by users in 2016 than it was in previous years, and because there were multiple occasions on which this word was the one clearly driving people to their dictionary.
Read more over here on Merriam-Webster’s most excellent blog.

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The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016 is post-truth – an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’. Their blog is really worthwhile checking out as well.

Oxford Dictionaries presents the Word of the Year for 2016, as well as the shortlisted words adulting, alt-right, Brexiteer, chatbot, coulrophobia, glass cliff, hygge, Latinx, and woke. Script provided by guest writer and cultural commentator Neil Midgley.

A Brief History of the Metal umlaut

Ëvërÿthïng’s mörë mëtäl wïth ümläüts!

The German Umlaut started to appear in various Germanic languages around 450 or 500 AD and it’s been really popular with hard rock or heavy metal bands ever since. The most famous example is, of course, Motörhead.
Their singer Lemmy Kilmister once said in an interview, “I pinched the idea off Blue Öyster Cult. Then Mötley Crüe pinched it off us and it goes on and on.”

The metal umlauts have been parodied in film and fiction. A character in the Guitar Hero game series is even called Lars Ümlaüt. In the mockumentary film This Is Spın̈al Tap, fictional rocker David St. Hubbins says, “It’s like a pair of eyes. You’re looking at the umlaut, and it’s looking at you.”

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The first gratuitous use of the umlaut in the name of a hard rock or metal band appears to have been by Blue Öyster Cult, in 1970. Blue Öyster Cult’s website states it was added by guitarist and keyboardist Allen Lanier, but rock critic Richard Meltzer claims to have suggested it to their producer and manager Sandy Pearlman just after Pearlman came up with the name: “I said, ‘How about an umlaut over the O?’ Metal had a Wagnerian aspect anyway.”

Motörhead followed in 1975 and Lemmy also advised his guitarist Würzel to add an umlaut to his name. Then the band Hüsker Dü debuted in January 1979 and Mötley Crüe formed in 1980. According to Vince Neil in the band’s Behind the Music edition, the inspiration came from a Löwenbräu bottle. They subsequently decided to name their record label “Leathür Records”.

The umlaut is supposed to give a band’s logo a more Teutonic quality—connoting stereotypes of boldness and brutality presumably associated with Germanic and Nordic cultures, but it is not generally intended to affect the pronunciation of the band’s name. Speakers of languages which use an umlaut may have trouble with the pronunciation nonetheless.

Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe told Vanity Fair, “[W]e put some umlauts in there because we thought it made us look European. We had no idea that it was a pronunciation thing. When we finally went to Germany, the crowds were chanting, “Mutley Cruh! Mutley Cruh! “ We couldn’t figure out why the f*** they were doing that.”

Geoff Tate, the lead singer of Queensrÿche, said, “The umlaut over the ‘y’ has haunted us for years. We spent eleven years trying to explain how to pronounce it.”

Related Links:

How to speak Death Metal English

TV TROPES: Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut

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Funny Yü should ask — Cam Hassard about the Umlaut

UN Officially Declares September 30 as Translation Day

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The UN Department for General Assembly & Conference Management (UNDGACM) was the first to announce the news on its official Twitter page: “Just happened: #UNGA declared 30 Sept. International Translation Day, recognizing the contribution of language professionals to the #UN.”

“Is this the time for the General Assembly of the United Nations to discuss translation with tens and thousands of people continue to die from war, hunger, and sickness?” Andrei Dapkiunas, Permanent Representative of Belarus to the United Nations, asked in his opening presentation. “How appropriate an agenda item is language and translations when the world is seeking a sustainable global paradigm for security, balanced development, and respect for human rights, which is difficult? (…) This resolution is about the underappreciated role of language in the life of our human society,” he said. “We feel that this deserves further discussion, perhaps legal protection of those translators working in conflict zones and in situations of higher risks.”

Eleven countries – Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Paraguay, Qatar, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam – were behind the push and are the signatories of Draft Resolution A/71/L.68.

Wikipedia: “International Translation Day is celebrated every year on 30 September on the feast of St. Jerome, the Bible translator who is considered the patron saint of translators. The celebrations have been promoted by FIT (the International Federation of Translators) ever since it was set up in 1953. In 1991 FIT launched the idea of an officially recognised International Translation Day to show solidarity of the worldwide translation community in an effort to promote the translation profession in different countries (not necessarily only in Christian ones). This is an opportunity to display pride in a profession that is becoming increasingly essential in the era of progressing globalisation.”

Grammarly – Free grammar and spelling checker

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Grammarly is an online grammar and spelling checker that improves communication by helping users find and correct writing mistakes. It’s easy to use:
Copy and paste any English text into Grammarly’s online text editor, or install Grammarly’s free browser extension for ChromeChrome, Safari, and Firefox.
Grammarly’s algorithms flag potential issues in the text and suggest context-specific corrections for grammar, spelling, and vocabulary. Grammarly explains the reasoning behind each correction so you can make an informed decision about whether, and how, to correct an issue.

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For users who want to supercharge their writing performance and leave no errors unchecked, Grammarly Premium is a paid upgrade that checks for over 250 types of grammatical errors, provides vocabulary enhancement suggestions, detects plagiarism, and provides citation suggestions. Grammarly Premium also includes Grammarly for Microsoft® OfficeGrammarly for Microsoft® Office.

Grammarly is an Inc. 500 company with offices in San Francisco, New York, and Kyiv.

Mashable (May 09, 2017) — “San Francisco startup Grammarly just raised $110 million to take its AI-driven grammar-checking tool to the next level. The funding, led by General Catalyst and Spark Capital, marks the first venture capital round in the company’s eight-year life.

The Sideways dictionary

The Sideways dictionary is like a dictionary, but using analogies instead of definitions. Use it as a tool for finding and sharing helpful analogies to explain technology. Because if everyone understands technology better, we can make technology work better for everyone.

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Video: How to write an analogy: Simplifying complicated technology concepts with Sideways Dictionary

Sideways Dictionary is a collection of witty analogies that help explain complex technology terms. Different analogies can be perfect to different people, so you can add your own—the quirkier and more personal, the better—and vote for the ones you find most helpful.

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Sideways Dictionary is a project by The Washington Post and Jigsaw

How Bootleg Translations of VHS Tapes Started an Anime Fan War in the 90s

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The little-known story of how a fight over Fushigi Yûgi subtitles built Ottawa’s anime community.

A fascinating story from the bronze age of subtitles over at Vice: “In the nineties, before broadband modems became widely available—and before anime streaming services like Funimation and Crunchyroll—staying up-to-date on anime was an arduous process. North American fans who wanted more than televised runs of Sailor Moon had to buy expensive subtitled VHS tapes from fan groups, who translated anime tapes themselves and then redistributed them after importing them, untranslated, from contacts in Japan.

Fushigi Yûgi

Buying anime this way meant sending money to people without distribution licenses, who were technically engaging in international copyright violation, and trusting them to send your tape in the mail. The Wild West mentality of the fansub industry led to members of the Ottawa-based Anime Appreciation Society (AAS) taking matters into their own hands after one of their favourite fansub groups, Tomodachi, refused to release its version of the final 20 episodes of the much-loved show Fushigi Yûgi—all because of its war with another fansub.”

Read on over at Vice Motherboard.

Photo above: AAS members and cosplayers. Image by Katy Watts