Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One born every minute

No. No, it wouldn't. For one thing, I just looked, and it didn't.For another, nonce words come and go all the time without landing in "the dictionary." And for another, do you really want a dictionary that defines one bit of jargon with another?

No, what's happened is that another reporter has decided that a press release from Global Language Monitor, a self-promoting language-hackery website that specializes in made-up lexical milestones and ideological fictions, is worth a story. And, of course, that a string of editors promoted the result to a 1A centerpiece. And once again, arrant nonsense is loosed upon the world:

Remember, this isn’t a fan blogging about the greatness of Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. USA Today compares the Global Language Monitor to an online equivalent to Webster’s Dictionary.

And if USA Today told you that some random website was as good at diagnosing that troublesome pain as your kindly old family doctor, you'd believe it -- why?

Our intrepid reporter manages to find someone who has a clue:

“The dictionary’s job is to record usage,” University of Colorado at Colorado Springs professor of English Tom Napierkowski said Monday. “An editor of a dictionary is not some supreme language authority. The editor of a dictionary doesn’t have a privilege or right to create new words. The editor’s job is to tell the rest of us how, and under what circumstances, a word is being used.”

... but seems not to have paid attention to what the local expert was probably implying, which -- I'd like to think -- was along the lines of "why would you think this is a story?" Because surely there's something better to do with your dwindling stash of newsprint than to demonstrate to your audience that you'll buy more or less any handful of magic beans that comes down the turnpike.



Anonymous raYb said...

Terrific new words like "Tebowing" last as long as the general public's attention span. This will be in use on ESPN and Wall-to-Wall Sports shows as long as Tebow wins. What happens if the team drops two in a row? Miss the playoffs? The definition becomes not the kneeling, but some derivation of "hitting a high point in publicity and then heading for the bench."

6:58 AM, December 14, 2011  

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