DSNA New Word Open Mic
Posted: 04 August 2007 03:52 PM   [ Ignore ]
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The Dictionary Society of North America meeting this past June included an “open mic” night, where people could suggest new words that they had (or thought they had) coined. The words were then judged ala American Idol. It made for an interesting discussion, which included reference to this discussion forum and diegogarcity.

The discussion was recorded by Charles Hodgson of Podictionary.com and is available at two different sites. On Podictionary.com and on the KPBS A Way With Words site.

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Posted: 05 August 2007 12:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Very enjoyable, Dave, and wonderful to hear diegogarcity and WordOrigins mentioned.

I was surprised though to hear Erin McKean stressing that usefulness was the criterion on which she judged whether a new word would make it into her dictionary. Shouldn’t usage be the only criterion, whether enough people actually use the word? Surely dictionaries should reflect usage rather than attempt to create it.

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Posted: 05 August 2007 04:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Shouldn’t usage be the only criterion, whether enough people actually use the word? Surely dictionaries should reflect usage rather than attempt to create it.

Nope. That’d leave out zillions of academic, scientific, and profession-related words. Also, a word like “truthiness” or “santorum” can be used several million times, but if nearly all of those uses also refer to, mention, or quote their popularizer (Stephen Colbert and Dan Savage, respectively), then those millions of uses count for far less.

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Double-Tongued Dictionary, a dictionary of slang, jargon, and new words from the fringes of English.
A Way with Words, a lively public radio show about language.

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Posted: 05 August 2007 06:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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"Usefulness” is a nice shorthand way to sum up half a dozen more precise criteria. If a word is useful, that means a lot of people are using it. It’s also used in a variety of contexts. It probably has metaphorical extensions. It can be used to produce other words. It is a word one is likely to encounter in literature. Etc.

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