M-W changes femininity cite and disdains fascism
Posted: 02 December 2016 07:50 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Here and here. Guardian.

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Posted: 02 December 2016 02:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The Ferrier piece on femininity is terrible. She doesn’t understand the difference between a definition and an example of use. As far as I can tell, M-W has not changed the definition of the word. My 2003 11th print edition of M-W’s Collegiate dictionary gives the definition as “the quality or nature of the female sex,” which is exactly what the online edition now reads (and I presume has always read). Apparently what was changed was the example of use, although I can’t find an example of use on the website. (Maybe they just deleted it, or perhaps I’m looking in the wrong place.)

Nor should a dictionary change a definition because people complain. The definition should be based on how people use the word. Changing an example sentence is less egregious, but while I would agree with Siegel’s (the woman who complained) sentiment, the original example sentence strikes me as a great example of how the word is actually used. Deleting an example of use that some find problematic is less of a problem for me.

The plea to get more people to look up words other than fascism is also less of a problem. I really don’t care what the M-W WOTY is. (Interested, but not concerned.) But deliberate attempts to manipulate lookup stats could screw up legitimate research that rely on that data. Also, without a focused effort on one word, the effort is likely to be fruitless. It strikes me as a clickbait strategy. M-W wants more people to look up words to boost their ad impressions.

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Posted: 02 December 2016 06:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Dave Wilton - 02 December 2016 02:40 PM

The Ferrier piece on femininity is terrible. She doesn’t understand the difference between a definition and an example of use.

Yes, it is very annoying and distracting.

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Posted: 03 December 2016 10:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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That’s why I said cite not definition in my header, and Grauniad subs at the very least seem to have been ignorant of the distinction. I agree with everything Dave said. Ignorance seems to be the key in our post=truth world but usage must be reported. (Towards the end of the Brexit crap, ‘What is the EU?’ was the most googled term in Britain.)

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