(Roughly) Daily

It’s alive! (the language edition)…

The editors of The Merriam-Webster Dictionary have added over 100 new words this year. Some are very much of our times– “subprime,” “norovirus,” “supercross,” and “Texas Hold’em,” for example– but some have made it over the hump only after years of careful study.

Consider, for example, “mondegreen,” meaning “words mistaken for other words” (most often, misunderstood phrases or lyrics) and derived from an old Scottish ballad (“The Bonny Earl of Moray”) in which the lyric “laid him on the green” has been confused over time with “Lady Mondegreen”… a phenomenon well-known to devotees of the Kingsmen’s epic single, “Louie, Louie.”

Read the AP’s report on the new inclusions here.

(S.F. Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll has been celebrating mondegreens since before they were even officially a word [indeed, since 1995]. Check out his collection of mondegreen columns for a comprehensively amusing set of examples… Carroll observes, “This space has been for some years the chief publicity agent for mondegreens. The Oxford English Dictionary has not yet seen the light, but it will, it will”… for once, the Colonies steal the march on the Mother Country in a matter lexicological.)

As we carefully chose our words, we might say joyeux anniversaire to that most exquisitely-cautious of phrasers, Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust, the author of A la Recherche de Temps Perdu, who was born on this date in 1871.

Everything great that we know has come from neurotics … never will the world be aware of how much it owes to them, nor above all what they have suffered in order to bestow their gifts on it.
-Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust

Written by (Roughly) Daily

July 10, 2008 at 1:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized