Short Saturday: The Word Factory

We’ve been talking about dictionaries—I always enjoy talking about the dictionary—and now a friend’s sent me this article from the New York Times: “A Journey Into the Merriam-Webster Word Factory.”

Oh, there’s just so much here to read! But here’s one little bit:

Which leads to an important point. Dictionaries are often seen as argument-settling arbiters of truth. But their job, Ms. Stamper notes, isn’t to say what something is, but to objectively and comprehensively catalog the many different ways words are used by real people.

Ms. Stamper has no patience for self-styled purists who quail at “irregardless”—an actual word, she notes. (She is O.K. with ending sentences with prepositions as well as—brace yourself—split infinitives.) But she also describes being caught up in some higher-stakes fights.

For example: “One chapter takes an uncomfortable look at the racial assumptions baked into a Merriam-Webster definition of the color term ‘nude.’”


Have a great weekend!

Tweet: A Journey Into the Merriam-Webster Word Factory.
Tweet: An interview with a lexicographer. Dream job!

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