https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNgyEmYyQF4 I love learning new words. (And writing them down.) All the better when they are invented words. John Koenig's Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a collection of words Koenig has created—inspired by real etymology—for specific emotions that don't have precise English words to describe them. Tell me you haven't felt every one of these: … Continue reading New words for obscure sorrows
God bless Finland, my ancestral homeland. First, there's the new book Pantsdrunk (Kalsarikanni): The Finnish Path to Relaxation (Drinking at Home Alone in your Underwear) by Miska Rantanen. From the publisher: Danes have hygge. Swedes have lagom. But the Finnish secret to contentment is faster and easier—"kalsarikänni" or pantsdrunk—drinking at home, alone, in your underwear. When it comes to … Continue reading Päntsdrunk, baby box, Moomin, and Finland’s other official emojis
I came out against irregular superlatives. I lobbied for the interrobang. Now throw this on my personal 2018 platform: Abolish the apostrophe. James Harbeck laid out the case against them a few years ago in an article that, to make his point, lacks apostrophes: Why are so many people so confused by apostrophes? Because they … Continue reading Abolish the apostrophe!
Lane Greene, from his forthcoming book Talk on the Wild Side: Language is not so much logical as it is useful. It is not composed; it is improvised. It is not well behaved; it is resourceful. It is not delicate; it is hardy. It is not always efficient, but its redundancy makes it robust. It … Continue reading Lane Greene’s language litany
A used books and records store in my town just moved even closer to my place. Today I stopped by and saw a two-volume Oxford English Dictionary Compact Edition. It comes in a case and with its own magnifying glass, because they weren't kidding when they called it compact: I exercised enough self-control to pass … Continue reading OED can you see?
99% Invisible (a personal favorite podcast) just did a typically great short history of the interrobang and its fight for survival: Today, the interrobang is just barely hanging in there. It has its own character in Unicode, the common directory of symbols which all computer fonts must reference. But Keith Houston points out that it … Continue reading Make the interrobang banal‽
I get the Word of the Day from Merriam-Webster, the OED, and Urban Dictionary in my RSS feed every day, which usually make for a lively bunch. Well, today, May 8, 2018, Urban Dictionary's Word of the Day is What A Chad: A phrase describing a stereotypical young urban white male, typically single and in his … Continue reading What a Chad
This morning I looked at my bookshelves and noticed my three volumes of Webster's Third New International Dictionary. I haven't cracked them open since I got them from Half Price Books a few months ago. I was so excited to get them so I'd have an accessible and thorough way to tap into the dictionary's … Continue reading Dictionary on display
I was helping my parents clear out their bookshelves in advance of their living room being painted and in the process stumbled upon some interesting artifacts. Among the books, family photo albums, and LPs that had stuck around unplayed for decades, I spotted a small University of Wisconsin notebook. I opened it to find in … Continue reading Inherit the Words
Who's ready for a grammatical crusade of pedantic proportions?! Get in on this: It's time to standardize English comparative and superlative adjectives. Those are used when you are comparing one or more things. For example, a banana can be big, bigger, or biggest. The -er and -est progression is common and used for most adjectives. The … Continue reading No More ‘More’: Against Irregular Superlatives