Friday, September 08, 2006

Did you miss Erin McKean at ACES?

I haven't posted about Erin McKean in months, so here (via is a 55-minute video of her presenting "The 10 Things I Wish People Knew About Dictionaries." It's the same presentation she gave at ACES — with a Google bonus, including "How Lexicographers Use Google." ("We use Google as a junkie uses heroin.")

A couple of quotes:
On including unpopular words, such as irregardless: "Ignoring bad things and hoping they go away is a strategy of failure."

"Beware the good etymologies. The better the story is behind a particular word's origin, the more likely it is to be completely made up — because most etymologies are boring. They say "Latin, that's what we know."

On "It's not about delivering dictionary data; it's about delivering advertising. ... The dictionary they are using for the most part is out of copyright, which means 1918. .... There are time capsules that have been put in and opened since then."

And, as pointed out on Crabwalk: Listen for her "globally rare use of the words 'doggy dog' without the phrasal prefix 'Snoop.'"

Here's the recap of her ACES session I wrote for the ACES blog. And there are more Erin McKean posts at A Capital Idea:
Quick hits
Quick conference recap
The Erin McKean lovefest continues
That Erin McKean posting I promised
America's lexicographical blogger
America's (and A Capital Idea's) lexicographical sweetheart
To be hip, young and a lexicographer

It's an obsession, I know. I think I've written about her more than hyphens.


At 6:43 PM, September 10, 2006, Anonymous Grammar Guru said...

While the definitions on might be outdated, they are convenient. Not everyone can afford a subscription to the OED online, though college students should be able to access it free through their university's library. I know my university allowed it, and I used the OED often in my English essays.

Still, the best dictionary is perhaps an unabridged print one, but for most, a cheap "college" dictionary should suffice.


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