Archive for August, 2011

  • Open Dictionary word of the week: pegacorn

    Posted by on August 31, 2011

    pegacorn (noun) a creature that is half pegasus (a horse with wings) and half unicorn Submitted by: Lana from United States I’m only choosing this word because I am hoping (for my sake, certainly not for yours) that your mind might work in the same way as mine, might follow the same pathways and fire […]

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  • Use ‘bloody’? Not Pygmalion likely!

    Posted by on August 30, 2011

    The Virtual Linguist wrote an interesting post recently about Pygmalion, focusing on the controversial language in George Bernard Shaw’s much-loved play. The expressions that provoked such consternation almost a century ago seem unremarkable to most modern readers and theatre-goers, yet one of them remains oddly controversial, as we will see. First there is the relatively […]

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  • Where do a small number of you come from?

    Posted by on August 29, 2011

    Last week, we looked at which towns or cities sent the most visitors to macmillandictionary.com. We’ve had a few guesses at which city is 10th in the list, some on the Facebook page and just one (!) in the comments section here. And no one guessed right. The answer is … Thanh Pho Ho Chi […]

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  • She’ll be right, mate

    Posted by on August 29, 2011

    Stan Carey’s post – Problems with pronouns – reminded us language is sometimes a blunt instrument, as in the use of they as an ungendered personal pronoun. We find it hard to think of a person without thinking of the group to which they/she/he belongs. The possessive of the neuter pronoun, its, seems to have […]

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  • From bluegrass to skronk

    Posted by on August 26, 2011

    This week’s language in the news post looks at the origins of music genre categories. Whether invented by a musician or named for their band, derived from an album title or evolved from a record label, musical categories are always a point of contention. This feature from The Guardian looks at the roots of some […]

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  • Language and words in the news – 26th August, 2011

    Posted by on August 26, 2011

    This post contains a weekly selection of links related to language and words in the news. These can be items from the latest news, blog posts or interesting websites related to global English and language change. Please contact us if you would like to submit a link for us to include. Global English Iraqi aircraft […]

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  • Open Dictionary word of the week: lazy Susan

    Posted by on August 24, 2011

    lazy Susan (noun) a rotating tray placed on a table; as it goes round, the food passes by each seat at the table, so that convenient self-service is possible They served their food on a lazy Susan. (Submitted by: Bubble from Germany on 08/05/2011) OK, so this is not a new word. But it’s weird, […]

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  • It’s political correctness gone mad (Part 2 of 2)

    Posted by on August 24, 2011

    Though coined in the 1930s, the expression political correctness came of age during the Eighties, initially – as we saw in Part 1 – as a neutral or even positive term. Nowadays, it is an all-purpose term of disparagement, and its application goes far beyond the realm of language, which was its original focus. For some […]

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  • Fighting fire with ‘firefighter’

    Posted by on August 22, 2011

    In a recent post about the role of dictionaries in matters of language and gender, Michael Rundell wrote that they “shouldn’t take sides in any area of language use” but that “in some cases this is unavoidable”. Dictionaries record how language is used, so they can’t simply ignore sexist and discriminatory usages – or new […]

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  • Where do you all come from?

    Posted by on August 22, 2011

    Just for a change, I thought that instead of reporting on what words people have been looking up, I’d see where visitors to the site are coming from. August is usually a quiet time of year, with educational holidays in many countries across the globe, but traffic is still buoyant, and the visitor data show […]

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