One talk featured in the "Words about words" theme section deserves your special attention, as it deals with words and dictionaries. The speaker is Erin McKean, who apart from writing about dresses on her blog A dress a day and editing a journal 'for the layperson' interested in language and linguistics is also Chief Consulting Editor for American Dictionaries at Oxford University Press, and in this capacity she was the editor in chief of the second edition (2005) of the New Oxford American Dictionary. In a very entertaining and accessible way, comparing 'dictionary problems' with ordinary, day-to-day problems like traffic or cooking, McKean tries to explain that there is no such thing as 'good words' (which are in the dictionary) vs. 'bad words' (which aren't), as well as showing what lexicographers do, what the difference between electronic and print dictionaries amounts to (not that much, really), and how anyone can help re-write the dictionary (sounds familiar, to those of you with Balderdash & Piffle on your mind). Highly recommended!
(Note: For some strange reason the embedded video seems to stall after 14 seconds -- if that happens, just go to the source website and watch the video from there.)
- Apart from her blog about dresses, Erin McKean also blogs about dictionaries over at Dictionary Evangelist.
- Another fun word-related blog is Wordlustitude, written by Mark Peters, who describes himself as a "dictionary-licking, English-major, word-nut". Wordlustitude is an online, ever-expanding dictionary of nonce words -- new coinages illustrated with citations from existing blogs as well as with an additional invented example. Here's the made-up citation for the rather horrifying verb denutify:
If God decided to denutify all men and start over with a race of self-replicating super-women, do you think I could hide on the moon from his ball-busting wrath?