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.]
The alphaDictionary Historical Dictionary of American Slang presents a unique way for studying slang. It contains over 2200 slang words with the centuries in which they were first printed. The dates were taken from the Oxford English Dictionary, the Online Etymological Dictionary, or the earliest occurrences the editors can remember. [more inside]
Mysteries of Vernacular is a series of delightful papercraft animations about etymology, by filmmaker Jessica Oreck. Four of a projected 26 videos, one for each letter of the alphabet, have been completed so far: Assassin, Hearse, Pants, and Clue. (via)
Victorious Vocabulary : A Lackadaisical Lexicon for Laggard Logophiles. [possibly nsfw]
Are the verbal pignuts nipping at thine clay-brained heels yet again? Does your dankish, knotty-ated mind quiver at scouring the bard's odiferous works for suitable defense? Then attend thee to the Shakespeare Insult Kit, where all manner of creations await your dullish wit.
Fearing cacodemonomania from jettatura, the acersecomic leptosome set off a biblioclasm of his scripturient neogenesis on ktenology, unwittingly bringing about hamartia.
Dictionary, n. A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic. This dictionary, however, is a most useful work.
Collins Dictionary is seeking suggestions for popular new words that deserve official definitions. Most recent suggestions: blurge, wammocky, dingbat, sloading, and many more.
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.
"Words -- so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them."
Save the Words: Adopt words that have been abandoned by the English language.
Little Surrealist Dictionary A game of re-definitions.
Sound-Word Index — 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.
Kingdom of Loathing creator Jick and the rest of the Asymmetric crew have spent the last four years developing a new game. Next month, the beta for the game is coming out: Word Realms! Make sure to watch the video, it's full of hilarity. [more inside]
"Lexcavator is an arcade/word game for Mac, PC, and Linux. The goal: guide your guy (@) deeper into an infinite of letters by clearing words from the board! Multiple game modes, detailed record-keeping, online global leaderboards—there's something here for everybody! Pay what you want (even $0, if you are so inclined)." [via mefi projects] [more inside]
The Lonely Planet has come up with a list of thirty travel terms that aren't in the dictionary.
Inspired by SMITH magazine's six-word Memoir project and books (previously), Minnesota Public Radio asks, "In six words, how would you describe 2011?"
"What do reindeer, Christmas trees, eggnog and Hanukkah have in common? They’re all part of what our elected representatives have been saying around the holidays. Things get even crazier when their quotes are taken out of context and made into crafty, bizarre and occasionally touching holiday e-cards."
Dave Wilton of wordorigins.org (prev) has been compiling etymological snapshots for each year of the past 100 years, based on words that first appeared in English that year. As of now, he is up to 1941. The 1911 entry gives a good overview of his goals and parameters. (via) [more inside]
My machine converts words into cocktails. And, yes, it does work. Now I can literally taste the flavor of my words. [more inside]
Living in a post-modern, information-rich world should lead us to more civility rather than less – thought this might be interesting to readers - Both Nietzsche and Brecht understood the temptations of arguing in rage, but did not follow their own prescriptions; we should learn from their example.
What's in a name? The UK riots and language: 'rioter', 'protester' or 'scum'? [Guardian.co.uk] "The BBC drew a small storm of criticism for the word it initially used to describe the people taking part in this week's trouble."
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.
The "convowel" tag on Wordnik tracks consonant-vowel patterns in words. "bleeding", "pheasant", "shoeless", "trousers" — ccvvcvcc; "quiet", "naiad", "Sioux", "feuar" — cvvvc; "anglophile", "attractive", "impressure", "ingressive" — vcccvccvcv
Halló humans on the Inter-net. My name is Iceland. I am an island, full of mountains and glaciers and hot water and sheep and many nice Icelandic people, who like to make music, and who are sometimes cold. (Maybe you have seen me on your tele-visions, or your Inter-net.) I have heard that many humans use the Inter-net to make friends, and to talk about themselves. I decided to do this, too.
Iceland wants to be your friend. [more inside]
Iceland wants to be your friend. [more inside]
Online Corpora. 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.
The 100 Most Beautiful Words in English and The 100 Funniest Words in English by Robert "Dr. Goodword" Beard. Yes, it's promoting a couple of books, but scroll down to see the complete lists (and a few examples of his write-ups on each). Nothing LOLCAT-ish, you ailurophiles, but good for your abibliophobia. I hope the fine assemblage here at MetaFilter (you are all so becoming and not at all anencephalous) will not beleaguer the author or cause an argle-bargle. Well, I must absquatulate, so, see you later allegator.
Merriam-Webster Online has come up with its take on the top word of the year -- plus nine others that are close to the top. (I'm partial to no. 10, furtive, myself.)
Google's new Ngram Viewer lets you track the history of words in six languages, including several flavo(u)rs of English. Whether it's the rise and fall of a single word, the evolution of technology, or the mysterious seventeenth-century proliferation of fart jokes, there's a lot to play with. More at the Official Google Blog.
word: /wɜrd/ -noun 1. a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning.
Words of the World is a site dedicated to the exploration and life of words and language. [more inside]
PuzzGrid is a lightweight, fast game of forming associations, which is, ahem, "based on" the BBC's Only Connect. Hundreds of grids to play and you can submit your own, too! (The BBC site has a few dozen more, in a fancier, louder flash app.)
Dictionary.com has a blog! It explains, usually in fairly short articles, the etymology of different words, the reason September is the ninth month, and what an "Emmy" is, among others.
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 New York Times has compiled a list of the 50 words which are most frequently queried in their stories. Mirabile dictu (no. 19) that it's redoutable (no. 17)!
Ten Word Wiki is an Encyclopedia for the ADD generation.
We describe everything in ten words exactly. Here's the Index.
We describe everything in ten words exactly. Here's the Index.
When Alan Cooper was in the second grade, his teacher introduced him to "homonyms," those words, like "caret" and "carrot" that are pronounced the same, but are spelled differently, and that have different meanings. The concept intrigued him, and over the years he has maintained an ever-growing list. Alan Cooper's Homonyms. [more inside]
Nevermind why you'd give condolences to "a wife..." let's hope she's not YOURS... obituarieshelp.org will help you fake like you are nice and caring, not just when writing the obit, but at any sorrowful time, big or small. And so much more than just condolence letters you can copy. [more inside]
The Beaver: Canada's History Magazine Canada's second-oldest magazine, published since 1920, will be changing its name because in this age of electronic communications its emails keep getting removed by spam filters.
Malaysian Catholic newspaper Herald was recently involved in a major lawsuit against the Malaysian government, stating that their constitutional rights were violated when they were stripped of their license to publish in East Malaysian indigenous language Kadazandusun. The ruling was overturned, amidst support by state ministers and protests by the Government, the Islamic Opposition party, and Muslim activists - some of whom have spent the past week attacking churches and convents through firebombs, Molotov cocktails, paint, and bricks thrown at glass. [more inside]
Regex Dictionary - for those times when you want a web-based dictionary you can search with regular expressions.
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 yourself.
The New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year is.... UNFRIEND. That's right, the negation of the verbification of 'friend'. Well, it's not quite as cringe-worthy as some of the runners-up... Teabagger?!? And previous winners of this honor were Hypermiling (2008), Locavore (2007), Carbon-Neutral (2006) and Podcast (2005) (links include each year's finalists, including frugalista, staycation, bacn, mumblecore, Islamofascism, funner, lifehack and squick). Best comment about the WotY (so far)? "an unreliable yet fascinating barometer of tech". But, at risk of over-editorializing, these look more like candidates for the Banished Words List. Clearly better is the recent list of "A Word a Year, 1906-2006" from Oxford's website (if only for the invaluable perspective of time).
Silent conversation, a truly beautiful flash game that has you trying to touch as many words of a poem as you can. (Yes it does have Williams Carlos Williams) [more inside]
Do you know what you would see a hypothecary about? Have stared down into a joola? Ever come across a jigget of sheep? Has someone called you a slubberdegullion to your face? Learn these and many more words from blogger Robin Bloor's fun 10 Words You Don't Know series of posts. Perhaps the most entertaining is the one where Bloor provides explanatory limericks with his definitions.
Forvo: 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 submitting.
Suheir Hammad, a Palestinian-American poet and activist now based in New York, writes about being a Muslim immigrant and also a woman challenging conventions. Spotted by Russell Simmons for Def Poetry Jam, she has performed pieces about love in the time of war, exoticising beauty, and a touching ode to her father, among many others. Suheir has just produced and released her first feature film Salt of This Sea, up for the Cannes Films Festival and possibly an Oscar, and recently performed in Ramallah for the 2009 Palestinian Festival of Literature.
wordbirds: word coinages illustrated by photos of birds. Glutenglutton Aplorable Mealbreaker Apoca-lips
Tip of My Tongue: Find that word you've been thinking about all day but just can't seem to remember.