WWI Vocabulary

Cooties, doughboys, and foxholes. Jonathan Lighter has a rather good article on CNN.com on the words spawned during the First World War, which began one hundred years ago next month.

If there is a complaint about the article it’s that Lighter only scratches the surface. There are many, many other terms that could have been mentioned, like tank, over the top, and storm troop. But there is only so much that can be included in an article such as this, and the ones that Lighter includes are a good representational sample.

(CNN gives the date of the war’s start as 4 August, which is the date Britain entered the war, but hostilities had started on 28 July 1914 between Serbia and Austria-Hungary. I wonder if, as the anniversary approaches, if there will be quibbling in the press as to the “true” date.)

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Business Jargon Tumblr

I’ve just discovered Use Sparingly, a tumblr that is a Devil’s Dictionary of business jargon.

Rather amusing.

[Tip o’ the hat to Lowering the Bar]

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Are You Using the Wrong Dictionary?

James Somers wrote a blog post on dictionaries a week or so ago, in which he extols older, more poetic dictionary definitions, criticizing modern dictionaries for being flat and uninspiring. He uncovers a very useful technique for punching up writing, one favored by famed, non-fiction writer John McPhee, but in the process Somers falls into a trap that many non-linguists do, ascribing to the myth that when it comes to language authority older is better. To put it bluntly, Somers is probably using the wrong dictionary.

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Why English Has Gendered Pronouns

Linguist Gretchen McCullough tells the interesting, but very convoluted story.

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