Jedi (n) and Klingon (n)
September 26, 2002 4:11 PM   Subscribe

Jedi (n) and Klingon (n) will now be listed in the Oxford English Dictionary. As will Ass-Backward. Given MetaFilter's interest in grammar this seems worth noting. How the editors decided that "Jedi" is worth inclusion but "Stormtrooper" is not is a conversation I would have loved to have heard. Naturally, people complaining about such inclusions ain't new. However, when words are removed from the same dictionary it's hardly noticed. Clearly unused words go away, so why do people make a stink about this year after year? Slow news cycles? Or is it an extension of the Prescriptivist - Descriptivist Argument with the Prescripts making a push for the "hearts and minds" of the public?
posted by herc (35 comments total)
Okay. I just posted this and it's all bold. Don't know what I did wrong, but I'm sorry to such an unaesthetic post!
posted by herc at 4:13 PM on September 26, 2002

herc, your links were improperly made. they are supposed to end with </a> not <a /> (which is something completely different.
posted by mathowie at 4:23 PM on September 26, 2002

***blushing terribly***
Thanks for the help!
posted by herc at 4:27 PM on September 26, 2002

I would just add from the headline—"Shorter Oxford dictionary adds Jedi, bunny-huggers and other oddities"—that this refers to a tome that is a distillation of the huge OED, which does not ever, to my knowledge, remove words. Thus, if a word falls out of current usage, it falls out of the shorter Oxford and likely brings about very little controversy. After all, we can still find a record of the word's usage in the gargantuan old original OED.
posted by smrtsch at 4:30 PM on September 26, 2002

mathowie, your parentheses were improperly made. they are supposed to end with ) not (which is something completely different.
posted by dolface at 4:37 PM on September 26, 2002

Smrtsch, that may explain why I had such a difficult time finding links to the _removal_ of words from the OED.
posted by herc at 4:40 PM on September 26, 2002

I remember we had the huge multi-volume OED at my school - all the writing was little and wee and there were 20 of the damned things. Then I saw the CD-ROM edition. The wonders of the modern age. And yes, they were mostly used for looking up naughty words..

Anyone know where you can get the Klingon dictionary from?
posted by Mossy at 4:50 PM on September 26, 2002

Klingon dictionary, which of course you'll need for reading the Klingon Hamlet. There's a beautiful hard-cover gold-leaf bound version of Hamlet that a friend of mine has, but I can't find a picture at the moment...
posted by whatzit at 4:56 PM on September 26, 2002

OK, I understand that they only added "road rage" and "carjacking" after 1993, but "Heimlech maneuver"?
posted by quarantine at 5:02 PM on September 26, 2002

Actually, I'm surprised about "stormtrooper" as well. I don't have an OED at my fingertips, but are you sure it isn't in the Third Edition? At the risk of citing Godwin, the word has roots far beyond a Lucas-devised villain.
posted by ed at 5:10 PM on September 26, 2002

For those who might be interested...
The new Klingon Imperial Forums (User ID: guest Password: guest -- but must register to post) have an entire section dedicated to discussions of the Klingon language, both in English and in tlhIngan itself. They also cover such diverse topics (over 100 to date) as Klingon religion and belief systems, biology, planetology, death-related rituals, cuisine, Tribbles, Targhs and even Klin Zha, often referred to as Klingon chess. These forums are part of the Net's currently largest site (225+ pages) dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Klingon culture and society, the Klingon Imperial Diplomatic Corps. The KIDC also has several sister organizations including the popular Klingon Imperial Weapons Guild, the Klingon Imperial Costumers Guild, the Klingon Webmasters Guild. and the Klingon Line Registry.
posted by Jade Dragon at 5:19 PM on September 26, 2002

hmmm.... don't have an OED handy but I would assume that storm trooper (the 2 word version) is already in the OED only not in a Lucasfilm type of way.
posted by bitdamaged at 6:28 PM on September 26, 2002

But when will bass-ackward be included?
posted by SPrintF at 6:30 PM on September 26, 2002

Basically on topic: the usage guide discussed by Wallace in the linked essay is very good reading. As is the essay itself, if you like Wallace's brand of rambling, which I do.

But. Yes. The usage guide. I'd give y'all the name, but I can't remember it (read the essay when it was first printed in Harpers) and now the damn page won't load. But. Yes. Very fun reading.
posted by cortex at 6:47 PM on September 26, 2002

From the CNN link:
Rowling gets credit for notable uses of old words, such as "beefy" -- an adjective describing Harry's awful uncle Vernon -- and "stump," as in: "Powdered root of what to an infusion of what? Harry glanced at Ron, who looked as stumped as he was."
WTF? How are these "old" words now? Are they/am I that obscure?
posted by Catch at 6:54 PM on September 26, 2002

Don't fear! They seem to be in regular use among folks in the Pacific NW, Catch. I think CNN is being run by monkeys again.
posted by cortex at 7:02 PM on September 26, 2002

I would assume that storm trooper (the 2 word version) is already in the OED

My Concise Oxford has "storm-trooper" under the listing for "storm".
posted by nomis at 7:15 PM on September 26, 2002

I'm surprised no one's pointed out the long-standing campaign to have Klingon added to the Unicode specification...

Personally, I'm a pragmatic prescriptivist: I think we should add, for instance, "bling," or the affirmative meaning of "down," but that we should also be teaching people how to properly pronounce words like "Banal" (rhymes with "all") and "Err" (rhymes with "burr"), as well as that "Bemused" is not synonymous with "Amused" (I once drove from VT to NYC with a writer who spent half the trip riffing on a "Bemusement Park" -- "Parking - 50 cents All Day, Ten Bucks for Half," etcetera).
posted by minnesotaj at 7:25 PM on September 26, 2002

...and the monkeys have never worn these t-shirts.
posted by brism at 7:26 PM on September 26, 2002

....and what about "bass-ackward"?
posted by tomplus2 at 7:32 PM on September 26, 2002

This is sort of silly. Any dictionary needs to be packaged to include the proper balance of words that will be needed versus the production costs and sales price. A "complete" dictionary, like the full OED, is prohibitively expensive for all but philologists and university libraries. Most people seem to get by with your average paperback dictionary; the one I have boasts of 59,000 entries -- barely larger than the average vocabulary of an educated adult. A typical hardcover "unabridged" dictionary runs from some 200,000 words up to half a million.

The full Oxford is considered a "historical dictionary" -- thus the ultimate record of the English language. But most people don't need that, hence the variety of more affordable and more useful editions -- such as the Shorter Oxford, the Compact Oxford, Concise Oxford, etc. There's even an Oxford American Dictionary customized for our vocabulary and grammar -- and presumably short on Briticisms such as a car's "bonnet".

Anyway, most words probably aren't selected by interminable discussion in meetings, but by some sort of voting mechanism among the editors.
posted by dhartung at 8:03 PM on September 26, 2002

Wait, this bass-ackward? It vi--

posted by cortex at 8:04 PM on September 26, 2002

Descriptivism is badass.
posted by eddydamascene at 8:08 PM on September 26, 2002

I'd just like to second the kudos on the David Foster Wallace link in the post - it IS great reading. That's all, carry on.
posted by vito90 at 8:12 PM on September 26, 2002

"A "complete" dictionary, like the full OED, is prohibitively expensive for all but philologists and university libraries."

Dan, the software version is a steal at $295. Did you catch the price for the hardcover 20-volume set?

Note the fine print that indicates this is a "bargain book".
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:25 PM on September 26, 2002

Actually, a thousand bucks for the greatest dictionary ever compiled, Grove's Dictionaries excepted, in 20 volumes, does seem like a bargain. I mean, come on -- we've all spent more than that on four-day get-aways to New York or San Francisco.
posted by minnesotaj at 8:47 PM on September 26, 2002

I've never spent that much on anything. Ever. Closest I ever came was spending 700+ dollars at the last minute to ship all my worldly possessions cross-country. And that was silly.

Point taken, though -- I'd love to have a full set of OED volumes.
posted by cortex at 8:53 PM on September 26, 2002

After I discovered the 20 volume set, I have lusted after it ever since... The employee discount should one day help me purchase that dictionary which is as expensive as a car and far more useful.
posted by drezdn at 10:16 PM on September 26, 2002

What do folks think of the Compact (referenced by dhartung above)? All in one, cool photo-reducto-micro-funkiness and much easier on the wallet, but very fussy to use. Has it been superseded by the electronic edition (plus the Shorter for your fix of tomeliness)?

Did you catch the price for the hardcover 20-volume set?
You Save: $2,005.00 (67%)
plus a few beers
happy dave

posted by stinglessbee at 10:29 PM on September 26, 2002

Stinglessbee - Used to own the old 2 vol; pal owns the new one volume. Verdict? Neigh, Wilbur. I personally love my trusty Merriam-Webster Collegiate and Concise Oxford Dictionary for everyday use; Webster's 2nd and the American Heritage 3rd are near enough at hand, as well as Skeat's Etymological Dictionary, for more controversial words. Personally, I just can't read -- ever, with any aiding device -- that microfiche-point typesetting.

However, now that I know that the 20 vol. OED is to be had for a mere grand, I've got a tough decision: 36" Wega for the basement library or the OED?
posted by minnesotaj at 10:49 PM on September 26, 2002

I think this news is nothing short of bootylicious.
posted by toothless joe at 8:30 AM on September 27, 2002

I have written a long and ill-tempered response to Wallace's article here (scroll down to DAVID FOSTER WALLACE DEMOLISHED). Sample:
p. 43: "...the notoriously liberal Webster's Third New International Dictionary came out in 1961 and included such terms as heighth and irregardless without any monitory labels on them." The lie direct: "heighth" is labeled "chiefly dial[ect]" and "irregardless" "nonstand[ard]." Does he think nobody's going to check up him?
I invite any Wallace supporters who find mistakes in my screed to let me know -- but be more careful of your facts than he is!

minnesotaj:how to properly pronounce words like "Banal" (rhymes with "all")
My Merriam-Webster's lists five pronunciations for "banal"; I happen to use a different one than you, but all of them are "correct." The fact that people who went to Oxford or Cambridge a century or so ago preferred a particular pronunciation is an interesting fact about them, but has no bearing on how Americans in the 21st century should speak.
posted by languagehat at 8:57 AM on September 27, 2002

At least Merriam Webster's online still says "Use regardless instead." Thank God.

Pronunciation: "ir-i-'gärd-l&s
Etymology: probably blend of irrespective and regardless
Date: circa 1912
usage Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century... The most frequently repeated remark about it is that "there is no such word." There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use regardless instead.

The accountant (MBA?) next to me at work says "irregardless" at least once-a-day on the phone, in kind of a pompous tone--as if it's an impressive long word. Makes me cringe every time.
posted by Shane at 10:15 AM on September 27, 2002

How the heck do you study Klingon?? I mean, any geek in their basement can make up something about Klingon "culture" and who is to say it isn't "true"? Is there some sort of central authority? Hah. Funny business indeed!
posted by f00b4r at 2:11 PM on September 27, 2002

p. 50: "That ursine juggernaut bethought to sup upon my person!" This is not a correct use of "bethought," which occurs only with a following reflexive pronoun and means 'called to mind, reminded oneself' (Charlotte Bronte: "I bethought myself of an expedient"). The word Wallace wants is "thought." (This error is first cousin to "begrudgingly" used for "grudgingly.")

*drools shyly on languagehat*
posted by redshoes3 at 10:12 PM on September 27, 2002

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