For the discussion of language mechanics, grammar, vocabulary, trends, and other such linguistic topics, in english and other languages.

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Postby Shro » Tue Sep 04, 2007 6:58 pm UTC

Erin McKean: Redefining the dictionary

This Talk from TED is much love. It gave me words like erinaceous and synecdochical, which firefox doesn't even recognize as words!

So, basically, this is a thread for dictionaries and how you wish they were different. Or all those words that you've made up or heard somewhere and wish were in a dictionary (besides urban dictionary - since that's basically just slang and dirty words and stuff)

My friends came up with one the other day which I will use as an example here:
insequeer: People that are insecure about being queer, someone who is gay, maybe out of the closet, but is ashamed/sad/upset about it.
argyl3: My idea of being a rebel is splitting infinitives.
Alisto: Rebel without a clause?

I made this thing:

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Postby Clerria » Tue Sep 04, 2007 9:10 pm UTC

I can't watch that at work, but...

My thoughts are that if we included every super awesome word we could possibly create or think of into a dictionary it would be so burdensome everyone would hate it. Wrist-spraining style.

I helped compile a persian-english dictionary once, and I deleted this entire paragraph because it was a load of boring crap. Not the first part though, that was true.

It would be nice if online dictionaries would bring up relevant, modern results, without losing respect by cramming it full of ads and pop-ups and other seedy internet garbage.

I think one of the best parts of language is the creativity. You should be able to create new words, or even new combinations of words (insequeer is great) without needing a dictionary to reference it. If it was all in a dictionary it'd be a big turn-off (for me, at least). Part of language is being able to decipher that new, constant creativity. If no one could figure out what you mean when you make up a word, language would stop evolving. English language, for better or for worse, is evolving.

I can't think of any new coin off the top of my head, but I do like the way people take old words and use them in completely new (irresponsible) ways. (Broken = awesome) Internet slang is full of this... it's an entire set of vocabulary that you need to pick up to be fluent, but there's too much new stuff constantly being created to keep up with it all.

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Postby gmalivuk » Tue Sep 04, 2007 10:41 pm UTC

Clerria wrote:My thoughts are that if we included every super awesome word we could possibly create or think of into a dictionary it would be so burdensome everyone would hate it. Wrist-spraining style.

Forget new super-awesome words. The OED already runs to something like 30 volumes. Which is why online dictionaries are the way to go.

Coining new words is cool (and I also like "insequeer"), and I do it in Spanish quite frequently, because I understand the basic linguistics of cognates (like which Spanish suffix corresponds to which English one) but don't always know the exceptions. However, as English already has hundreds of thousands of words, I usually first try to find a now-obsolete word to serve my purposes. Like pointful (opposite of pointless) or elsewho. I then throw these words into my everyday writing and get great joy out of pointing people to relevant dictionaries when they accuse me of making shit up.
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Postby Handsome » Tue Sep 04, 2007 11:51 pm UTC

I find that making up new and cromulent words tends to embiggen one's vocabulary greatly. Of course, so do the "word of the day e-mails"....
I eat yellow snow
Cones, that is. Not yellow snow
Well, not normally.

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Postby Alpha Omicron » Wed Sep 05, 2007 12:47 am UTC

my 2 cents:

cent #1: the OED rocks.
cent #2: new words are called "neologisms".
Here is a link to a page which leverages aggregation of my tweetbook social blogomedia.

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Postby Amicitia » Wed Sep 05, 2007 12:57 am UTC

Try Japanese, you can make as many words as you like (that means steal them from other languages :D).

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Re: Lexicography

Postby yy2bggggs » Wed Sep 05, 2007 6:06 am UTC

Someone please just add prepend to a dictionary somewhere that doesn't call itself technical. That's been bugging me for years.

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Postby SpitValve » Wed Sep 05, 2007 2:59 pm UTC

Thing is, there are still restraints on the internet: like how wikipedia is so heavily moderated.

But I have to respect any lexicographical expert who uses "y'all" so often :)

(She's right, lexicographical is fun to say)

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