Word Nerd Day
I was the kid who would sit and read the dictionary. For fun. So began my journey of exploring words. I would make lists of words. Words that I liked because of how they sounded. Words whose definitions pleased me. I’m rather pleased to see that there are enough of us wordlovers to have a Word Nerd Day on January 9.
Celebrate by reading books about dictionaries and indulge in your love for all things word.
Word Nerd Reading
Have you ever tried to define the word “is?” Do you have strong feelings about the word (and, yes, it is a word) “irregardless?” Did you know that OMG was first used in 1917, in a letter to Winston Churchill? These are the questions that keep lexicographers up at night.
While most of us might take dictionaries for granted, the process of writing dictionaries is in fact as lively and dynamic as language itself. With sharp wit and irreverence, Kory Stamper cracks open the complex, obsessive world of lexicography, from the agonizing decisions about what and how to define, to the knotty questions of usage in an ever-changing language.
She explains why the small words are the most difficult to define, how it can take nine months to define a single word, and how our biases about language and pronunciation can have tremendous social influence. Throughout Stamper brings to life the hallowed halls (and highly idiosyncratic cubicles) of Merriam-Webster, a surprisingly rich world inhabited by quirky and erudite individuals who quietly shape the way we communicate.
Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words by Bill Bryson. A revised and updated edition of a humorous primer to the English language, expanded for an American audience, contains entries on correct and questionable usage, a glossary, and a pronunciation guide.
The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester. Dr. W.C. Minor, an American Civil War crimina, submitted more than ten thousand definitions for the first Oxford English Dictionary. He was consideed both a genius and a lunatic.