I made a movie and all I got was its title added to the dictionary

Monday, 26 May, 2014

Hashtag, crowdfunding, and steampunk, are among one hundred and fifty new words that US dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster will add to this year’s edition of its Collegiate Dictionary.

Also joining the rank of neologisms is “catfish”, a term that found its way into the vernacular by way of Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s 2010 documentary of the same name.

catfish (n., new sense): a person who sets up a false personal profile on a social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purposes.

Having a word, based on the title of a film that you made, added to a dictionary has to be just as good as winning an Oscar wouldn’t you think?

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A palindrome sentence that is… 17,826 words long

Monday, 7 April, 2014

I’m hoping this article isn’t an April the first remnant, but if it isn’t, then US computer scientist Peter Norvig has succeeded in creating a palindrome sentence that is 17,826 words long. Norvig is the Director of Research at Google, so I’d say this can be taken at face value.

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Sometimes the best way to be understood is to use a loan-word

Friday, 14 March, 2014

The English language is full of loan-words, words that have been taken, borrowed that is, from another language, and incorporated – as is, sans translation – into the vernacular. Still, between our own words, and those of other languages, there are still instances, I’m sure, where we can’t quite find the right term to apply to a particular situation.

With words such as “tartle” being a Scottish phrase for situations where one has momentarily forgotten the name a person they are introducing to someone else, or “jayus”, an Indonesian word that describes a joke so bad it is actually funny, this list of words that we should use more often, may then be what you need.

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From back to front, a list of single word palindromes

Tuesday, 22 October, 2013

From a resource, A Collection of Word Oddities and Trivia, compiled by US high school teacher Jeff Miller, an extensive list of single-word palindromes… being words, sentences, or numbers, that read the same way backwards or forwards.

And if you’re playing Scrabble and have the letters x, y, and z, especially z, in abundance, this list of last words, that are often found in the last pages of dictionaries, could prove invaluable.

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What sort of shelf life do new words really have?

Wednesday, 11 September, 2013

A number of new words were added to the Oxford online dictionary recently, but will any of them still be in use ten years down the line, or might they have long since faded from memory?

According to Alexis Madrigal, writing for The Alantic, the chances are about even, after he checked up on how “words”, including lol and dot-com, that were added to dictionaries during the 1990s, are travelling today.

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Next we’ll be naming “twerk” as the word of the year

Friday, 6 September, 2013

Surprise, surprise, the word “twerk” has recently, along with a stack of other “buzzworthy” neologisms, been added to the Oxford online dictionary… no need, I’m sure, to go into what the word means, or why its inclusion at this juncture merits a mention.

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It’s all in our minds, the way we sometimes see words

Wednesday, 15 May, 2013

The fact that we often visualise, in our minds, a flying pig when we hear the term, even though no such creature exists, says a lot about the way we understand a language.

That’s not much of a stretch when it comes to words for things like throwing a baseball or seeing a duck. But what about words for things we’ve probably never seen? Like a flying pig. “A flying pig isn’t something that actually exists in the real world,” Bergen says. Yet when we read those words we see one in our mind’s eye. Most people see a pig with wings above its shoulders, Bergen says. But some people imagine a pig with a cape, flying like Superman.

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Ultraconserved words, a dictionary especially for time travellers

Monday, 13 May, 2013

Time travellers for one ought to swot up on their “ultraconserved words”, a collection of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, that have endured the changes that living languages are subject to, least they need to form sentences that will be understood, should they find themselves somewhere in the distant past.

A team of researchers has come up with a list of two dozen “ultraconserved words” that have survived 150 centuries. It includes some predictable entries: “mother,” “not,” “what,” “to hear” and “man.” It also contains surprises: “to flow,” “ashes” and “worm.” The existence of the long-lived words suggests there was a “proto-Eurasiatic” language that was the common ancestor to about 700 contemporary languages that are the native tongues of more than half the world’s people.

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New, and legit, ways for Scrabble players to use their Js, Qs, and Zs

Wednesday, 24 April, 2013

Ten words made up of not so widely used alphabet letters, such as J, Q, and Z (letters that I always seem to end up with), that Scrabble players ought to familiarise themselves with, including:

  • Oxyphenbutazone
  • Muzjiks
  • Quizzify

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Goodness me, goodness me, could this be a case of word aversion?

Monday, 8 April, 2013

It’s not just the meaning of any given word that may cause someone to take exception to it… a word’s sound, or even look, may be enough to trigger a bout of word aversion.

Word aversion is marked by strong reactions triggered by the sound, sight, and sometimes even the thought of certain words, according to Liberman. “Not to the things that they refer to, but to the word itself,” he adds. “The feelings involved seem to be something like disgust.”

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