Browsing Month January, 2008

Interview with British slang lexicographer Jonathon Green

Somehow, I missed this bit with British slang lexicographer Jonathon Green last year. There’s a short text summary and a 57-minute audio interview in MP3 format. Thanks to “Barrington A” on the Slang mailing list for bringing it to my attention. Note that at about four minutes in Jonathon (whom I know professionally and communicate more…

New Scientist: “Word nerds capture fleeting online English”

A fairly ordinary article in New Scientist about online dictionaries and word-hunting has been published. Ben Zimmer has some critical comments about the article. It’s the usual stuff: it has a gee-whiz tone, it has wacky words littered throughout, it barely scratches the surface, and it makes light of “geeks” and “nerds.” The last two more…

The blueprints of a Craigslist apartment scam

Sorry, this one isn’t about language. But it is about knowing how to do research to prove people right and wrong, which is how I spend a lot of my time in working with language. So what is this? This is what a Craiglist apartment scam looks like. The Craiglist abuse department took down the more…

American Crossword Puzzle Tournament

Big news! My radio partner Martha Barnette and I will be participating in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament February 29-March 2. New York Times Crossword Puzzle Editor and NPR puzzlemaster Will Shortz has asked Martha and me to present prizes at the awards banquet. He also invited me to jointly give the championship play-by-play with more…

Who gives a quote about the Oxford comma?

I do in a Vanity Fair blog post by Michael Hogan who writes about a band called Vampire Weekend which has a song called “Oxford Comma.” The band is four white kids who play pop-rock flavored with African guitar-playing styles that you might hear in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo, Zaire, South Africa, and more…

Welcome to Slang City

My latest column in the Malaysia Star. There is, of course, a lot more to be written on the subject of slang as spoken in New York City, both currently and historically, but the length of a newspaper column allows for only the lightest touches and I sought to keep an eye on the audience more…

Lysdexia, rain garden, infant-mortality failure

Recent interesting catchwords from the Double-Tongued Dictionary are: lysdexia n. a joking name for dyslexia, a learning disorder. rain garden n. a piece of low, damp ground planted with vegetation that is suitable for rainwater that collects there. infant-mortality failure n. a breakdown of a piece of machinery that is new or has recently been more…

Citjo, floppy, supermajor

Recent interesting catchwords from the Double-Tongued Dictionary are: citjo n. a citizen journalist. floppy n. a comic book, so-named to distinguish it from a thicker graphic novel. supermajor n. one of the handful of very large petroleum companies.

Taking a haircut and losing your shirt

Last week I wrote about real estate, mortgage, and investment terms for the Malaysia Star. Here’s the column in full: This past year, one of the biggest trends in language was related to real estate, housing, and home loans. Oh, yes, those dry worlds turn out plenty of curious terms. Probably the biggest winner in more…

Faux-po, snarge, quizzam

Recent interesting catchwords from the Double-Tongued Dictionary are: faux-po n. a security guard; turkey bacon. Faux + po-po. snarge n. the carcass or remains of a bird that hits an airplane or passes through its jet engine. Said to be a blend of the words “snot” and “garbage.” quizzam n. a test that is more more…