Let’s pick that mic up again and check out some of the words that have been added toOxfordDictionaries.com in the world of informal language. The mic drop in question can be a literal ‘instance of deliberately dropping or tossing aside one’s microphone at the end of a performance or speech one considers to have been particularly impressive’, but it’s more likely to be figurative – or an exclamation to emphasize a particularly impressive point: Nuff said. Mic drop.
Wordnik – Let’s Add a Million Missing Words to the Dictionary
In this fun, short talk from TEDYouth, lexicographer Erin McKean encourages — nay, cheerleads — her audience to create new words when the existing ones won’t quite do. She lists out 6 ways to make new words in English, from compounding to “verbing,” in order to make language better at expressing what we mean, and to create more ways for us to understand one another.
Erin McKean has also started a Kickstarter for Wordnik: “The reason so few words are added to traditional dictionaries is because writing definitions takes a long time. A very talented editor may write seven entries in a day, or she may need weeks to describe just one word. Dictionary definitions are very difficult to write.
Wordnik takes a different approach. Instead of writing traditional definitions, we search for casual definitions that have already been created. You see these casual definitions all the time in good writing!”
More at Wordnik.com.
Online dictionaries: which is best?
The Guardian: “The new edition of the Oxford English Dictionary will be online-only. Many of its rivals – Collins, Chambers et al – have already launched free web versions. But which one is the wordsmith’s best friend?
Sad news for those of us with fond memories of long minutes lost in the more arcane histories of English words: the third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, which a team of 80 lexicographers has been working on since 1989, will probably never be printed. “The print dictionary market is just disappearing,” Oxford University Press CEO Nigel Portwood told a Sunday newspaper. It will still be available online – in fact, in December, the web version is being relaunched, including for the first time the historical thesaurus of the OED, which contains almost every word in English from Old English to the present. The problem is that it is a tad pricey: £7 plus VAT for a week’s access; £205 plus VAT for a year. Luckily, there are alternatives.”
Brush Up On Your 17th-century Slang
Neatorama: “The Bodleian Library is publishing a new edition of the first English language dictionary of slang, which has been out of print for 300 years.
Originally entitled A New Dictionary of Terms, Ancient and Modern, of the Canting Crew, its aim was to educate the polite London classes in ‘canting’ – the language of thieves and ruffians – should they be unlucky enough to wander into the ‘wrong’ parts of town.
With over 4,000 entries, the dictionary contains many words which are now part of everyday parlance, such as ‘Chitchat’ and ‘Eyesore’ as well as a great many which have become obsolete, such as the delightful ‘Dandyprat’ and ‘Fizzle’.
Here are some examples to whet your appetite:
Cackling-farts, c. Eggs.
Farting-crackers, c. Breeches.
Grumbletonians, Malecontents, out of Humour with the Government, for want of a Place, or having lost one.
Mutton-in-long-coats, Women. A Leg of Mutton in a Silk-Stocking, a Woman’s Leg.
You can view the definitions of Arsworm, Bumfodder, Dandyprat, Humptey-Dumptey, and many more at the Bodleian Library link.
Erin McKean redefines the dictionary
TED Talks: Editor-in-chief of the American Heritage dictionary, Erin McKean, describes how the role of lexicogrophers is really to “fish” for new words rather than to “direct traffic” on questions of language. In this talk, McKean discusses the nature of the bound printed dictionary and how digital technologies can potentially improve upon the dictionary’s centuries-old form. If you enjoy what you see and hear, visit her online dictionary: Wordnik or her blog.
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