Search for word usage in movies and television over time
Movies and television shows often reflect cultural trends of the time they are made in. Even movies that take place during the past or future can say something about the present through metadata or production style. Using the Bookworm platform, Benjamin Schmidt, an assistant professor of history at Northeastern University, provides a tool that lets you see trends in movie and television dialogue.
, buildings are constructed from the letters that make them up. Construct buildings by typing words like "HOUSE," "OFFICE," or "PARK."
55 Canadianisms You May Not Know or Are Using Differently
A (non-scientific) survey providing a thorough & fascinating look at words in Canadian English [more inside]
A Browser Extension That Replaces "Literally" With "Figuratively".
Built by a programmer named Mike Walker
, it’s an extension for Google’s Chrome browser that replaces the word “literally” with “figuratively” on sites and articles across the Web, with deeply gratifying results. Previously.
The Made Up Words Project
is an on-going undertaking by illustrator Rinee Shah
(who you may remember from her Seinfood
poster series.) The goal is to collect and catalog the made up words that we share with family and friends.
only lists adjectives. English Synonyms and Antonyms
takes the time to explain the small distinctions of meaning and usage between, for example
, example, archetype, ideal, prototype, type, ensample, model, sample, warning, exemplar, pattern, specimen, exemplification, precedent,
--or, at least, such distinctions as author James C. Fernald, L.H.D., perceived in 1896.
From the New-York Mirror
of February 24, 1883:
“. . . a new and valuable addition has been made to the slang vocabulary. … We refer to the term “Dood.” For a correct definition of the expression the anxious inquirer has only to turn to the tight-trousered, brief-coated, eye-glassed, fancy-vested, sharp-toes shod, vapid youth who abounds in the Metropolis at present. …
The Dood is oftenest seen in the lobbies of our theatres on first-nights. He puffs cigarettes or sucks his hammered-silver tipped cane in the entr actes, and passes remarks of a not particularly intellectual character on the appearance and dresses of the actresses. His greatest pleasure lies in taking a favorite actress or singer to supper at Delmonico’s or the Hotel Brunswick—places he briefly calls ‘Dels’ and the ‘Bruns’—where he will spend his papa’s pelf with a lavish hand. … ” [more inside]
"In 1872 two men began work on a lexicon of words of Asian origin used by the British in India. Since its publication the 1,000-page dictionary has never been out of print and a new edition is due out next year. What accounts for its enduring appeal?
Hobson-Jobson is the dictionary's short and mysterious title.
" [more inside]
Approximately 375 million people speak English as their first language
, and 470 million to over a billion people speak it as a second language (to varying degrees). Even so, there are some words that do not exist in English, even with new word entries periodically being added to the Oxford Dictionary
. 25 words that do not exist in English
. [more inside]
Starting with a bracket for every letter
of the alphabet
, a bracket suggested by readers
and a "Fuck" play-in bracket
, blogger Ted McCagg just finished a contest for the Best Word Ever. In the running
were Umpteen, Eke, Isthmus, Skedaddle and Akimbo. The Final Four
. The finals
. The champion
. [Via The Paris Review & Kottke.]
with no simple English equivalent
The Project Twins
have created bold illustrative posters of unusual words from A to Z
Recent technologies developed at American universities are making communication easier for the sight and hearing impaired. Last summer a Stanford undergrad developed a touchscreen Braille writer
that stands to revolutionize how the blind negotiate an unseen world by replacing devices costing up to 10 times more. Thanks to a group of University of Houston students, the hearing impaired may soon have an easier time communicating with those who do not understand sign language. During the past semester, students in UH’s engineering technology and industrial design programs teamed up to develop the concept and prototype for MyVoice
, a device that reads sign language and translates its motions into audible words, and vice versa.
Save the Words:
Adopt words that have been abandoned by the English language.
— Emotions and their sound can invade our digital messages. Our words become flexible and vibrate according to the volume of our voices, transforming their written form into an expressive and resonating language. Without the help of body language, words can sometimes fall short in our digital conversations. However, sound, volume and rhythm can influence the spelling of our words, helping to translate our emotions hidden behind our screens.
The Lonely Planet
has come up with a list of thirty travel terms
that aren't in the dictionary.
Worn-out Words: [Guardian]
Last year Ledbury poetry festival
asked poets to name their most hated words
. For this year's festival – running from 1 to 10 July – they've asked for the expressions that have become such cliches that they have lost all meaning. Here are their responses: please add your own.
Daniel Soar on the militarisation of metaphor
: Spies aren’t known for their cultural sensitivity. So it was a surprise when news broke last month that IARPA, a US government agency that funds ‘high-risk/high-payoff research’ into areas of interest to the ‘intelligence community’, had put out a call for contributions to its Metaphor Program, a five-year project to discover what a foreign culture’s metaphors can reveal about its beliefs.
. In linguistics, a corpus is a collection of 'real world' writing and speech designed to facilitate research into language. These 6 searchable corpora together contain more than a billion words. The Corpus of Historical American English
allows you to track changes in word use from 1810 to present; the Corpus del Español
goes back to the 1200s.
Words of the World
is a site dedicated to the exploration and life of words and language. [more inside]
Words I love
, not to be confused with Words I hate
Climate change and the vuvuzela leave mark on Oxford Dictionary of English.
Other words and phrases introduced for the latest edition include 'toxic debt', 'staycation', 'cheesebal' and 'national treasure'. To balance them out among the 2,000 or so new items there are a few more left-field choices.
Among them are 'cheeseball', which refers to someone or something lacking taste, style or originality, and the more disturbing phenomenon of 'hikikomori', the Japanese word for the acute social withdrawal that occurs in some teenage boys.
The Michigan Corpus of Academic Spoken English
is a searchable collection of almost 2 million words of transcribed spoken English from the University of Michigan, including student study groups
, office hours
, dissertation defenses
, and campus tours
. Researchers use the Michigan corpus to investigate questions about usage, like "less or fewer?"
(cf. this contentious Ask Meta thread
) and more general topics, like "Vague Language in Academia." Browse or search MICASE
: All the words in the world, pronounced by native speakers.
At the time of this post, the tally stands at: 327,492 words
; 239,165 pronunciations
; in 220 languages
; with 25,040 users
"four-letter words have a special status in the english language and culture. counting in at over 1650 words,...this small project is an attempt to give a spacial overview of the entirety of this part of english language heritage, as well as to explore and visualize relations between all those words."
Why would an evolutionary biologist study words? It turns out there is an astonishing parallel
between the evolution of words in a lexicon and the evolution of genes in an organism. The word two
, for example, has been around much longer than most, and will likely be with us for millennia, whereas the comparatively rare and recent word dirty
has undergone many mutations, and will probably be extinct in a few hundred years. Professor Mark Pagel
, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading, UK, tells us why on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's program As It Happens
. Pull slider to 16:00 to start the seven minute interview
International House of Logorrhea
, at The Phrontistry
, a free online dictionary of weird and unusual words to help enhance your vocabulary. Generous language resources, 2 and 3 letter Scrabble words
l The Compass DeRose Guide to Emotion Words
l all kinds of glossaries for color terms
, love and attraction
, scientific instruments
, manias and obsessions
, feeding and eating
, carriages and chariots
, dance styles
and all kinds of fun word stuff. [more inside]
Annoying and/or pretentious terms:
"jejune", "pyjamas", "piping hot", "social justice". Cool terms:
"cogitate", "cul-de-sac", "high dudgeon", "orangutan".
A Brief History of English, with Chronology
by Suzanne Kemmer is one of many articles at Words in English
, a website designed as "a resource for those who want to learn more about this fascinating language – its history as a language, the origins of its words, and its current modern characteristics."
is a collection of 3210 words that are troublesome to readers and writers. Words are grouped according to the way they are most often confused or misused.
lets you view foreign-language web pages with definitions in your language as mouseovers (registration-only). [more inside]
allows you to see what the most often used word was on any given day in the U.S Congress. [via mefi projects]
The Dictionary of Coming to Terms with the Past (Wörterbuch der 'Vergangenheitsbewältigung'
) examines over 1,000 German words that have Nazi connotations, such as Endlösung
(Final Solution) and Selektion
, It is featured in a review
by der Spiegel. Such loaded words still constitute a minefield for Germans today, as the Archbishop of Cologne discovered
last year in a situation analogized
to Senator Biden's use of the term "articulate" when referring to Senator Obama. [more inside]
"The old, mean man" vs. "The mean old man."
Here's an aspect of English (and other languages) I've never thought of before. If you're using a string of adjectives, there's a natural order for them to appear in: "opinion :: size :: age :: shape :: color :: origin :: material :: purpose". (Although I find "old, mean," due to it's strange order, sort of striking.) [more info: 1
Pompous Ass Words
is a site dedicated to identifying words that shouldn't be used, on the grounds that doing so makes you sound like a pompous ass. With humorous citations and links to examples of pompous word usage by the media.
social networking... for words. Catalog your favourite (or least favourite) words — make any variety of word lists, and connect to other users using the same words. Silly, but fun!
Were you a minger
, sporting a mullet
, looking a bit naff
when you were getting mullered
while out on the pull
, anytime before 1988? Or were you posh
, looking snazzy
after spending your dosh
to get a nip and tuck
before 1980? If so, the Oxford English Dictionary and the BBC
need you for their Wordhunt
– a call to help find the earliest verifiable usages of a list of words
from the past decades whose origin is still uncertain.
Merrian-Webster open dictionary
"Have you spotted a new word or a new sense for an old word that hasn't made it into the dictionary yet? Well, here's your chance to add your discovery (and its definition) to Merriam-Webster's Open Dictionary"
a LAME FITTER, FALTER ITEM and A FELT TIMER. We need some MATT RELIEF. Fun with anagrams
A whole other newt
with an ekename
I was looking up the origin of "nother" and learned about the phenomenon known as word misdivisions
. Color me educated.