“I’ve been hailed as a hero (hipster poets love me), gotten the rock star reception (by research librarians), and been dismissed with derision, thought possibly to be deranged,” says Jon Danzinger. So what’s his job, you might ask? He’s a researcher for the Oxford English Dictionary.
Curious to know what the new Most Irritating Word is? Not many people agree on the number one offender, but for a while a top choice was “literally,” which evolved so much over the past few decades that the Oxford English Dictionary revised its official definition. At Slate, Katy Waldman proposed that we give the title to “amazeballs.” Now, in The New Republic, Judith Shulevitz makes the case for “disruptive,” the scourge of the tech world.
Jonathan Dent offers a fascinating look at one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s most challenging assignments for the Oxford English Dictionary. Apparently as a young philologist, Tolkien was tasked with tracing the etymology of “walrus” – a tricky word “of disputed origin that had all but entirely replaced the earlier English name morse since its first appearance in English in the late 1600s.”
The Council of Literary Magazines and Presses is hosting their annual Spelling Bee Fundraiser on October 30th. New Yorker editor Ben Greenman will host the event, which will pit Jonathan Ames, Amor Towles and Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures author Emma Straub against one another (and more) in a battle of lexicographic perspicacity. (Can you state the language of origin, please?) The event will be judged by none other than Jesse Sheidlower, editor of the inimitable Oxford English Dictionary.