The American Dialect Society and the Linguistic Society of America will set up shop at the Minneapolis Hilton next week and discuss some fascinating minutiae in language. Members of the ADS will start with a talk Thursday on "The Canadian short vowels in motion" and end on Saturday with "Regional differences in tolerance for contraction." LSA members can hear about such topics as "The bilabial trill in Port Sandwich (Vanuatu) in 1774."
Holiday lists for copyeditors often involve searching Etsy for purses made out of books and necklaces made out of Scrabble tiles. But the holiday season also brings end-of-year lists, and two significant lists were released this week.
When dictionaries, lexicographers and others announce the words that defined 2013, most celebrants consider the twerks, selfies and Thanksgivukkahs—the words that were coined in 2013 or at least rose to prominence in the past year.
In the news this week is a case of a toy manufacturer using a song in their ad without permission. They argue that the use is a parody, one of the exceptions permissible under copyright law. It certainly is a bit of a parody — and several factors of awesome better than the toy itself — however, the Beastie Boys who created the song point out that the use is very clearly promoting a product.*
The word of the year season starts about the time of retail Christmas season. Oxford Dictionaries announced a unanimous choice among its judges of selfie, an 11-year-old word that certainly came into its own in 2013.
Halfway through November is when the thought always strikes me: Time is not going to cut us a break. We are going to be moving toward the end of the year at this seemingly quickened pace no matter what we do. I have a few rituals that help me deal with the holiday-complicated schedules and the general end-of-year pressures. Taking a few leisurely moments to browse end-of-year book lists is one of my favorites.
It was a loss for the book authors who sued, but a victory for free use of information. A ruling in Google’s favor in a complicated lawsuit over its digitization of millions of books may be more of a boon to authors than a royalty check would have been had they won.