A newspaper in Santa Barbara has raised the ire of many in its community by twice using illegals in a headline as shorthand for people who have entered or stayed in the United States without permission. Doing so led to demonstrations and counter demonstrations by supporters and opponents of a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally.
One issue with selecting a single word of the year is the question of whether the most important criteria is a word’s newness and staying power or simply its importance in the year that was. The American Dialect Society selected for the first time a twitter hashtag as its Word of the Year for 2014, leaving many observers wondering what criteria the assembled voters had in mind.
Manydifferent Words of the Year are selected by dictionaries and other organizations, but the culmination of this annual examination of language and culture is tonight: The American Dialect Society chooses the 201
The AP Stylebook Online sent one of its semiannual emails yesterday giving subscribers a rundown of recent updates. Among the changes: You no longer should preheat your oven. Heat your oven and you’ll be fine.
Use of the pre- prefix, especially before a verb, creates some seeming redundancies that grate on many language sticklers: preregister, prearrange, pre-addressed. Is the meaning unclear if you register or arrange an event or address an envelope?
The Daily Currant is a fake news site with stories often shared on Facebook and elsewhere not because they’re funny, but because they’re plausible. Where The Onion leans to the ridiculous when it skewers politicians and celebrities, The Daily Currant cuts close to the truth, attributing outlandish statements to people prone to making outlandish statements.
The word culture entered the language in its most common forms less than two centuries ago, but in all its forms it is in the top 1,000 most-common words in American English. According to the Corpus of Contemporary American English, culture ranks 612, making it more frequently seen than brother, marriage, opportunity, and stuff.
Our Christmas tree is always a blue spruce that we keep in a box in the basement when we’re not using it. Pine allergies keep us from the ritual of driving to a farm or nearby tree lot to find the perfect tree. This has kept me from receiving a proper education on the differences between pine, spruce and fir.
In my mind, they are all pine trees because they have pine needles. Spruce, fir, and pine are all of the Pinaceae family. But pines are of the pinus genus; the genus for fir is abies; and for spruce it’s picea.
If you want to make a big splash for the word lover on your gift list, you can’t go wrong by wrapping all six volumes of the Dictionary of American Regional English. It will set you back $740, or $650 if you skip the index and supplemental material that comes with Volume VI.
If that seems costive (Ozarks) or spendy (Northwest), you could go with an online subscription. Less impressive than a stack of books that won’t quite fit under the tree but perhaps more useful, the digital subscription to DARE can be had for the holidays for half price: $75.