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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Words of 2013 round-up

By Alice Northover
Word of the Year season in the English-speaking world has come to a close. Oxford Dictionaries kicked off the annual reflection (and often infuriation) regarding words that were particularly relevant this past year. Here’s a brief round-up of the various words singled out by dictionaries, linguists, and enthusiasts.

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Seven selfies for the serious-minded

By Alice Northover
Self-portraits are as old as their medium, from stone carvings and oil paintings, to the first daguerrotypes and instant Polaroids. Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 – selfie – indicates the latest medium: a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.

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Is this a selfie which I see before me

By Alice Northover
A further celebration of Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year ‘selfie’ with a variation of MacBeth’s famous ‘dagger’ monologue. I’ve bolded the new words to make it easier to scan for the changes.

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Edwin Battistella’s Word of the Year Fantasy League

By Edwin Battistella
Oxford Dictionaries have been collecting lexicographic material and updating dictionaries for over a century now, though its Word of the Year award is still relatively recent. Only since 2004 Oxford Dictionaries have been selecting a word that captures the mood of the previous year. Thinking about the possible contenders for 2013 (twerk? fail? drone? shutdown? bitcoin?) got me to wondering about the past.

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The year in words: 2013

By Katherine Connor Martin
Oxford’s lexicographers use the Oxford English Corpus (OEC), a 2-billion-word corpus of contemporary English usage gathered since 2000, to provide accurate descriptions of how English is used around the world in real life. A corpus is simply a collection of texts that are richly tagged so that they can be analyzed using software (we use the Sketch Engine).

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Edwin Battistella’s words

By Edwin Battistella
The annual Word of the Year selection by Oxford Dictionaries and others inspired me to an odd personal challenge last year. In November of 2011, about the time that Oxford Dictionaries were settling on squeezed middle as both the UK and US word of the year, I made a New Year’s Resolution for 2012.

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Words of 2012 round-up

By Alice Northover
While most people are getting excited for the start of awards season on Sunday with the Golden Globes, the season has just ended for word nerds. From November through January, the Word(s) of the Year announcements are made. I’ll let you decide who is the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, SAGs, National Film Critics Circle, etc. of the lexicography community. Just remember YOLO — because it appeared on every list.

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Seven words that gained fame on TV shows

Television shows have a huge influence on popular culture, and so it is not surprising that many words and phrases have come into common usage through the medium of television. Here are a few of our favourite words and phrases that were popularized through iconic TV shows.

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Five GIFers for the serious-minded

By Alice Northover
When people think of GIFs, they often imagine a silly animation for a quick joke. But like any medium, it has potential beyond our cat-centric imagination. “The GIF has evolved from a medium for pop-cultural memes into a tool with serious applications including research and journalism, and its lexical identity is transforming to keep pace,” Head of US Dictionaries, Katherine Martin, recently commented. So it’s only appropriate to highlight a few GIFers who take the file format beyond a basic form.

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Six WOTY confusables about GIF

There has also been some widespread confusion on a few things relating to GIF’s selection as Word of the Year [USA], so we thought it would be helpful to give a little roundup for clarification.
(1) Oxford Dictionaries USA and The New Oxford American Dictionary (and Oxford Dictionaries UK and Oxford Dictionary of English) are not the Oxford English Dictionary. OUP publishes many dictionaries and the OED is only one of them.

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To gif or not to gif

To gif, or not to gif–that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of crude animation
Or to take arms against a sea of static
And by opposing end them.

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