MEMBER NEWS SPRING 2019

Peter Chipman has completed the half-million-word manuscript for a dictionary of Jane Austen’s English, which seeks to define all the words Austen employed in her six canonical novels, in the various senses she used them in, illustrating each sense with an actual sentence from one of the novels. He is beginning to shop the manuscript around to publishers.

Rosemarie Ostler’s book Splendiferous Speech: How Early Americans Pioneered Their Own Brand of English was published in November 2018 by Chicago Review Press. Using Bartlett’s 1848 Dictionary of Americanisms as a starting point, the book explores the main sources of the American vernacular — the expanding western frontier, the bumptious world of nineteenth-century politics, and the sensational pages of the penny press. It also looks at how Americans gradually shook off their reverence for British linguistic standards and learned to appreciate their own speech. Rob Kyff of the Hartford Courant calls the book “exhilarating.” http://www.rosemarie-ostler.com/

Lindsay Rose Russell announces the publication of her first book, Women and Dictionary Making: Gender, Genre, and English Language Lexicography Cambridge University Press; August 2018 (UK), September 2018 (US). Tracing the craft of dictionary making from the fifteenth century to the present day, the book explores the vital but little-known significance of women and gender in the creation of English language dictionaries.  

In a recent article in the Boston Globe, Kory Stamper discusses the origins of the “Word of the Year” phenomenon and shares insights on that phenomenon from a host of lexicographers and other “word nerds” whose names will be familiar to DSNA members: Grant Barrett, Katherine Connor Martin, Allan Metcalf, Helen Newstead, Peter Sokolowski, Jane Solomon, Don Stewart, and Ben Zimmer.

Many of the above-listed luminaries were also present on January 4th when the American Dialect Society decided on its Word of the Year at the society’s annual meeting, held in New York City in conjunction with the Linguistic Society of America. Presiding over the selection was Ben Zimmer, chair of the society’s New Words Committee and DSNA member. After intense discussions among a few hundred attendees, the overall winner for 2018 Word of the Year was selected: “tender-age shelter,” the bureaucratic term for a government-run detention center housing the children of asylum seekers at the U.S./Mexico border. “The use of highly euphemistic language to paper over the human effects of family separation was an indication of how words in 2018 could be weaponized for political necessity,” Zimmer explained in the press release. “But the bureaucratic phrasing ended up backfiring, as reports of the term served to galvanize opposition to the administration’s border policy.” Other winners in the voting included “techlash” as Digital Word of the Year, “yeet” as Slang/Informal Word of the Year, and “(the) wall” as Political Word of the Year. For complete results, see the ADS press release: https://www.americandialect.org/tender-age-shelter-is-2018-american-dialect-society-word-of-the-year.