I confess, I'm a word nerd. When I was a kid, I didn't keep a diary (grasping even at eight that the exploits of an introverted bookworm with a peaceful home life were perhaps not the stuff that formed a fascinating read), but I did keep a list of words that I liked: Burble. Murmur. Placate. Superfluous. Chaos. It's the specificity that got -- and gets -- me. My mom isn't just "kind" -- she's compassionate, altruistic and decent.

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So what exactly makes a word the Word of the Year? The Visual Thesaurus traveled to the American Dialect Society's annual meeting in Chicago last week to find out. For the past eighteen years this scholarly group has been selecting words or phrases that have become newly prominent or notable in American English. Their goal is to demonstrate that change in language is normal, nonstop -- and even fun. Continue reading...
How do words enter our lexicon? Which ones survive in our language? Which ones die? Forensic linguist Dr. Allan Metcalf has developed a method to predict the success or failure of a word that's almost foolproof. English professor and registrar of MacMurray College in Illinois, Allan is also the Executive Secretary of the American Dialect Society, which famously announces their annual Word of the Year. It is this exercise that served as the catalyst for Allan's investigations, which he explains in his book Predicting New Words. We spoke to him about his fascinating findings, and, of course, the Word of the Year: Continue reading...
This month in the Lounge we examine a common cause of Language indigestion and show the way to lasting relief. Continue reading...
Topics: Vocabulary
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