Today is the 260th anniversary of the publication of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language. It was an innovative, landmark work, which focused on not just "hard words" (as previous dictionaries had), and also introduced the practice of providing quotations from authors illustrating the definitions. There's a dictionary quiz night in London if you can make it.
31 Adorable Slang Terms for Sexual Intercourse from the Last 600 Years Lexicographer Jonathon Green’s comprehensive historical dictionary of slang, Green’s Dictionary of Slang, covers hundreds of years of jargon, cant, and naughty talk. He has created a series of online timelines (here and here) where the words too impolite, indecent, or risqué for the usual history books are arranged in the order they came into fashion. (If you don’t see any words on the timelines, zoom out using the bar on the right.) We’ve already had fun with the classiest terms for naughty bits. Here are the most adorable terms for sexual intercourse from the last 600 or so years.
The new chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary discusses its future. "My idea about dictionaries is that, in a way, their time has come. People need filters much more than they did in the past."
POWER VOCAB TWEET. Boost your vocabulary with these fiercely plausible words and definitions. About. [via mefi projects] [more inside]
Wondering about your British colleagues wearing tank tops in chilly weather and complaining about bumf? Trying to figure out what your American colleagues mean by poster child or hump day, or just where exactly kitty-corner is? Lynneguist's Separated By a Common Language will get you sorted. [more inside]
An eminent former editor of the Oxford English Dictionary covertly deleted thousands of words because of their foreign origins and bizarrely blamed previous editors, according to claims in a book published this week.
Evocative definitions of colors in Webster's Third New International Dictionary and how they got there. [more inside]
In the late fall of 1965, lexicographer Frederic Gomes Cassidy dispatched a fleet of Word Wagons from a Madison, Wisconsin parking lot. His team of graduate students and volunteers, armed with Cassidy's 1,847-item questionnaire were attempting to compile and decipher all regional dialects and idioms found in America. Cassidy passed away in 2000, but colleagues continued on, and the fifth volume of the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) has been completed. [more inside]
"Repairing the English Language since 1998." Based on Ambrose Bierce's Original Devil's Dictionary [more inside]
Standards editor Philip Corbett at the New York Times (allegedly) issues memo officially discouraging use of the word "tweet." [more inside]
Save the Words. Do lost words still have meaning? Just because society has neglected them doesn't make them any less of a word. How do you get lost words back in the dictionary? With lexicographers scanning publications and other communication for words not currently housed in the dictionary, all you need do is use your adopted words as often as possible. Go, Adopt a Word. Like graocracy.* * - government by an old woman or women. [more inside]
Dictionary of the Scots Language. The two major historical dictionaries of the Scots language, the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (DOST) and the Scottish National Dictionary (SND), have been combined into one searchable online edition:
Thus, information on the earliest uses of Scots words can be presented alongside examples of the later development and, in some cases, current usage of the same words. In this way, we hope that the DSL will allow users to appreciate the continuity and historical development of the Scots language. By making the DSL freely available on the Internet, we also aim to widen access to the source dictionaries and to open up these rich lexicographic resources to anyone with an interest in Scots language and culture.