Posts Tagged ‘lexicography’
From our old friend Dante Shepherd, “Defining words that aren’t real. Yet.” E.g…
Head-bashery (noun): like head-banging, but done by someone with no energy and rhythm; in effect, pathetic head-banging.
Juxtapolitician (noun): a political figure who automatically denounces the stance, proposal, beliefs, or achievements of his/her political opposite, just because he/she is the political opposite.
Meanderthal (noun): one who has failed the driver’s exam multiple times.
Lots more experimental lexicography at The Oxford English Fictionary…
As we noodle new nouns, we might send consoling thoughts to Philo T. Farnsworth; he was born on this date in 1908. As a Utah schoolboy, Farnsworth began to develop the design of the electronic system that became, in 1927, the world’s first all-electronic television system. In 1931, RCA’s David Sarnoff tried to acquire Farnsworth’s patents, with the stipulation that the inventor join RCA as an employee. When Farnsworth refused, Sarnoff backed a rival technology, sued Farnsworth, and used his considerable political clout to have the RCA system declared the standard.
In these times of proliferating online reference resources, what’s a poor scholar to do? Dictionaries can be a particular problem: duelling definitions, eccentric enunciations… all against a backdrop of a language that’s evolving, in both vocabulary and usage, even as we speak…
Wordnik is a new way to discover meaning… Wordnik shows definitions from multiple sources, so you can see as many different takes on a word’s meaning as possible… We try to show as many real examples as possible for each word. These examples are ranked by how useful we think they are in helping you understand the meaning of a particular word, especially words that may not have traditional dictionary definitions… [Wordnik lists related words.] Our word relationships include synonyms, hypernyms, hyponyms, words used in the same context, a reverse dictionary, and tags…
All this– plus lists, images illustrating entries, recorded pronunciations, and a word-of-the-day at Wordnik.
As we choose our words both more carefully and more confidently, we might fling a fistful of rice in celebration of the nuptials of Sadye Marks (better known as Mary Livingstone) and Benjamin Kubelsky (or Jack Benny, as audiences knew him); they were married on this date in 1927.
Mary co-starred in Benny’s fabulously-successful radio series, and became famous for her occasional flubbed lines, many ultimately as legendary as the deliberately-crafted “illogical logic” of Gracie Allen or the carefully-scripted malapropisms of Jane Ace and (as Molly in The Goldbergs) Gertrude Berg. (Visit here for downloadable examples.)
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”*…
There are over 1 million words in the English language; still, all too frequently, one can’t find just the right term… One can, of course, turn to other languages for le mot juste. And happily, our friends at Mental Floss have provided a list to jump start the process; e.g.,
The act of gazing vacantly into the distance without thinking.
Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, “grief bacon.”
Thirteen more precisely-right words at “15 Wonderful Words With No English Equivalent.”
* Mark Twain
As we add a Larousse to our Roget’s, we might send tasty birthday wishes to Henry John Heinz, the gifted marketer who founded H.J. Heinz Co.and coined its “57 varieties” slogan. By age 12 he was peddling produce from the family’s Pittsburg garden. At 25, in 1869, he and a friend launched Heinz & Noble; its first product: Henry’s mother’s grated horseradish, bottled in clear glass to reveal its purity. Heinz & Noble thrived until the bumper crops of 1875 tanked prices and led to bankruptcy. But Heinz plunged back in, this time solo, eventually building a model factory complex along the Allegheny River. By 1896, “The Pickle King” had become a millionaire and celebrity.
From MatadorAbroad, a heart-felt plea: “20 Obsolete English Words that Should Make a Comeback.”
Read it and kench!
As we scribble in the margins of our dictionaries, we might recall that it was on this date in 1866 that the first U.S. patent for a yoyo was issued to James L. Haven and Charles Hittrick. Though the device is called a “Whirligig” or a “Bandalore” in the patent form, it had the unmistakable “two disks coupled together at their centers by means of a clutch” design. (It was also the first time rim-weighting to maintain momentum was mentioned in a patent: “it will be observed that the marginal swell … exercises the function of a flywheel.”)
Messrs. Haven and Hettrick mass-produced yoyos over a half century… during which time, in a 1916 Scientific American Supplement article, the name “yoyo” was first used in the U.S. in print. the name “yoyo” was popularized in America starting in 1928 by Pedro Flores, who borrowed it from the Philippines (where it had been borrows from China, where the toy has ancient roots) for the products of his Yo-yo Manufacturing Company.
(from the ever-illuminating Language Log)
As we sharpen our pencils, we might recall that it was on this date in 1971 that the U. S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Paul Cohen for disturbing the peace, setting the precedent that “vulgar” writing is protected under the First Amendment.
In April of 1968, Cohen had been arrested in the L.A. County Courthouse for wearing a jacket the back of which read “F–k the Draft”; he was charged with and later convicted of violating section 415 of the California Penal Code, which prohibited “maliciously and willfully disturb[ing] the peace or quiet of any neighborhood or person [by] offensive conduct.”
In a 5-4 decision, SCOTUS upheld Cohen’s appeal. In the majority opinion, Justice John Marshall Harlan averred that “one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric.” (For the minority, Justice Harry Blackmun demurred, arguing that Cohen’s “absurd and immature antic” was conduct, not speech– and thus should not be afforded First Amendment protection.)