On Tuesday 5 August 2014, Ammon Shea, author of Reading the OED and Bad English, leads a discussion on Shakespeare’s King Lear. Each summer, Oxford University Press USA and Bryant Park in New York City partner for their summer reading series Word for Word Book Club.
Ammon Shea explores the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary.
Ammon Shea reflects on his trip to Oxford.
Ammon wonders about the word Gossypiboma.
All dictionaries have mistakes. Ghost words creep in, there are occasional misspellings, or perhaps the printer was hung over one day and misplaced some punctuation. In addition to these normal forms of human error there are others that are created by language, as it continues its inexorable change.
John McGrath the genius behind Wordie.org fills in for Ben Zimmer.
Yesterday we shared 34 selections of the OUPblog’s best work as judged by sharp editorial eyes and author favorites. However, only one of those selections coincides with the most popular posts according to pageviews. Does Google Analytics know something that our editors do not? Do these articles simply “pop” (and promptly deflate)? Or are there certain questions to which people always demand an answer?
By Dennis Baron
Last Spring the New York Times reported that more and more grammar vigilantes are showing up on Twitter to police the typos and grammar mistakes that they find on users’ tweets. According to the Times, the tweet police “see themselves as the guardians of an emerging behavior code: Twetiquette,” and some of them go so far as to write algorithms that seek out tweets gone wrong (John Metcalfe, “The Self-Appointed Twitter Scolds,” April 28, 2010).
Twitter users post “tweets,” short messages no longer than 140 characters (spaces included). That length restriction can lead to beautifully-crafted, allusive, high-compression tweets where every word counts, a sort of digital haiku. But most tweets are not art. Instead, most users use Twitter to tell friends what they’re up to, send notes, and make offhand comments, so they squeeze as much text as possible into that limited space by resorting to abbreviations, acronyms, symbols, and numbers for letters, the kind of shorthand also found, and often criticized, in texting on a mobile phone.
By Ammon Shea
Every year, a group of people at OUP USA put our heads together and come up with a Word of the Year. This is an example of a word (or expression) that we feel has attracted a great deal of new interest in the year to date. It need not have been coined within the past twelve months (although it generally is a new word). It does not have to be a word that will stick around for a good length of time (it is very difficult to accurately predict which new words will have staying power). It does not even have to be a word that we plan on introducing into the dictionary (at least, not unless it seems fairly certain that it will stick around for a while).
Ammon Shea reveals how the Oxford Word of the Year is chosen.
How could you use the HTOED to rewrite the Gettysburg Address?
A look at two very personal cover images.
Ammon Shea reports on the Dictionary Society of North America Conference.
Ammon Shea reviews I’m Not Hanging Noodles On Your Ears.
Ammon wonders about the future of books.
How many words are in the English language?