This weekend–at 2:30 am on Saturday, to be precise–Twitter bot @everyword was set to complete its 7-year run with the final word in the English language: “zymurgy.” Unexpectedly, the bot tweeted again half an hour later–with a nontraditional character it had surreptitiously glossed on the first run: éclair. Since @everyword, like Lazarus, probably won’t get the same fuss after its second death, check out The Guardian’s interview with creator Adam Parrish now.
The international popularity and utility of English doesn’t show any signs of slowing, but what will the language look like after a few generations of increasing usage? The Economist gives a brief answer, but it doesn’t address the ways English is or will be used by different people to tell their stories. Damian Fowler addresses this when he asks, “[W]hat does it mean to have an American point of view,” or to call a book American in tone, as opposed to British or just English-language? In a blog post for The Paris Review, Fowler offers an answer: American novels are characterized by “a spare, sure sense of narrative, reflected in a colloquial voice, free of affectation.”
Over the past few years, the Movoto Real Estate blog has become the internet’s number one destination for appraising the real estate in the Harry Potter universe. First they estimated the value of Hogwart’s Castle to be around $204 million, and now they’ve turned in an estimate of the Weasley family’s Burrow near Ottery St. Catchpole.
Penguin is putting out snazzy, mesmerizing, jacket-less hardcover editions of a number of classics. These remind of the old books on my parents’ shelves. You won’t be able to get your hands on these for a few months though.
We recently published our review of Haruki Murakami’s latest novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. Now comes news that yet another Murkami book will be hitting shores before the year is out. The Strange Library, already available for pre-order, is 96 pages long, will ship in December, and will include “full-color art throughout in a lavish volume designed by Chip Kidd.”
Sick of getting corrected for tiny grammatical mistakes? Turns out you may not be a forgetful person after all. According to a cognitive psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, our brains have a tendency to fall into bad grammatical habits, even when we know the rules we’re trying to follow. In The Washington Post, Andrew Heisel investigates. You could also read Fiona Maazel on the specter of commercial grammar.