I love words. I love etymologies and origins and how things got to mean what they mean today and how that has changed from what they meant yesterday or last week. Over at Mental Floss, they have this article, 7 Fake Words That Ended Up in the Dictionary, which now has me asking the obvious question: if a “fake word” ends up in the dictionary, does that not, by definition, make it a real word? And if so, can we bring these words into everyday parlance? If not, what’s to say that any word is “real?” Remember those lists of words we should “bring back?” Maybe those are fake, too?
Merriam-Webster’s new etymology tool is both educational and terrifying · Great Job, Internet! · The A.V. Club
The cool thing about the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is that it is referential and contextual. Which is to say, the definitions come from printed usage, with meanings determined by context. One of the advantages of this is you can trace the history of a word’s meanings back through time, with citations showing the literary usage (a great non-fiction book about this is The Professor and the Madman, which I highly recommend reading). Continue reading “Merriam-Webster’s new etymology tool is both educational and terrifying · Great Job, Internet! · The A.V. Club”
25 Words That Are Their Own Opposites | Mental Floss
25 Words That Are Their Own Opposites | Mental Floss.
These are the kinds of words which make English such a fun language to play with. Interpretation is everything. This is also what makes communication difficult sometimes. I always tell my students that as long as I can understand what they are trying to say, then it doesn’t matter so much about the grammar and spelling… but then if they’re using words like these, I may have no idea what it is they’re trying to say. Continue reading “25 Words That Are Their Own Opposites | Mental Floss”
Pixar Cofounder Ed Catmull on Failure and Why Fostering a Fearless Culture Is the Key to Groundbreaking Creative Work | Brain Pickings
Not much really new here, but it’s all stuff which needs to be said, over and over again.
“Catmull begins by pointing out that failure, for most of us, is loaded with heavy baggage — a stigma that failure is bad and a sign of weakness, engrained in us early and hard.”
This is the result of “Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Words can hurt much more, and have a much more reaching effect than mere “sticks and stones.” Words can destroy us and keep us from being who we are truly capable of being. But at the same time, words can lift us up and and make us better than we ever thought possible.
It all depends on the words we use and how we use them. Words are important.
Pixar Cofounder Ed Catmull on Failure and Why Fostering a Fearless Culture Is the Key to Groundbreaking Creative Work | Brain Pickings.
15 Retronyms for When You’re Talking Old School | Mental Floss
15 Retronyms for When You’re Talking Old School | Mental Floss.
These are really interesting. I wonder how the relate, linguistically, with things like “Hamburger Meat” and “Tuna Fish” both of which have the addition of unnecessarily specifying to which group they belong.
It’s also an interesting conversation starter to think about which words are going to need Retronyms in the future. We already specify 3D vs 2D films, but I could see that becoming something we’d need to be even more specific about in the future. It might even become immersive vs. flat. What about books? Are we already moving into Retronym territory by having to specify print book instead of e-book?
In any case, I think it’s a fascinating look at the way we interact with the words around us.