kottke.org posts about dictionaries

The end of @everywordJun 05 2014

The Guardian has an interview with Adam Parrish, creator of @everyword, an automated Twitter account that's been listing a dictionary's worth of English words in sequence since 2007. @everyword recently reached the Zs and will complete and close tomorrow, June 6.

Words aren't just things that we write and use in our speech. They are also things we think about individually. Like sex, weed, swag - when they're not in a sentence, we can also think about them individually. Everyword raises that question of thinking about a word just from that perspective, as a social object.

On the other hand, because @everyword is inside an individual person's Twitter stream, the words take on the context of whatever else is in the stream at the time. There's the possibility of weird serendipitous interactions between a word in your stream and some other tweets. The word "super" might be tweeted, and then you read a tweet about a school superintendent or Superman movie.

Any Twitter account that gets you thinking about both the Platonist and the Dadaist dimensions of language at the same time is my kind of fun. And that's a sort of fun that I associate with the Golden Age of Twitter, given its commingling of high and low, news and musings, humans and bots. That too is coming to a close:

In its early days, because of ven-cap funding, Twitter wasn't thinking about monetization. They were just really encouraging developers to work with it and do interesting things. There was no concept of ads or promoted tweets. Now things are different. They've changed the API and some of the things that were easy to do are now difficult.

The flipside is, more people use it. As an artist, it's disappointing that the medium has been converted into this very commercial, focused platform, but on the other hand I get to have a huge audience for an experimental writing project. It's a huge privilege and I definitely have Twitter to thank for that.

It's all cause for low-grade melancholy and a touch of anxiety. As Suzanne Fischer wryly tweets: "If the dictionary is finite, what else might be ending?"

Free OEDJan 10 2011

Through Febuary 5th, you can access the Oxford English Dictionary online for free by using trynewoed/trynewoed as a login.

Short review of New Partridge Dictionary ofOct 30 2006

Short review of New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. "'I like the cut of his jib' resonates a lot differently than 'shizzle my mizzle fizzle dizzle!'"

The folks who do the Oxford DictionariesMar 16 2006

The folks who do the Oxford Dictionaries have a list of frequently asked questions about language, grammar, and usage. Nice resource.

To protect against wholesale theft of words (Aug 26 2005

To protect against wholesale theft of words (theft of words? I feel silly just writing that...), dictionaries insert fake words in their listings. The article says that the New Oxford American Dictionary's fake word showed up on dictionary.com, but as of today, it's gone.

Tags related to dictionaries:
language books

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