Reference and languages books

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‘Insurrection’ named the American Dialect Society’s word of 2021
The term for a violent attempt to overthrow a government beat ‘vax/vaxx’ to the top spot, while ‘yassify’ won informal word of the year and ‘Fauci ouchie’ the most creative

Alison Flood

10, Jan, 2022 @4:59 PM

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NFT beats cheugy to be Collins Dictionary’s word of the year
The abbreviation of ‘non-fungible token’ tops a shortlist also including pingdemic, climate anxiety and metaverse

Alison Flood

24, Nov, 2021 @7:01 AM

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The Wordhord: Daily Life in Old English – a lexical treasure chest
This compendium of words and scholarly asides paints a colourful portrait of the Anglo-Saxon world

Steven Poole

09, Nov, 2021 @10:00 AM

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Language used to describe the climate becoming more urgent, study finds
Oxford English Dictionary found between 2018 and 2020 use of ‘climate crisis’ increased nearly 20-fold

Robyn Vinter

21, Oct, 2021 @4:54 PM

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Index, a History of the by Dennis Duncan review – a delightfully readable A to Z
Can a good index be compiled by computer software, or is there an art to this overlooked endeavour?

Keith Kahn-Harris

15, Sep, 2021 @10:00 AM

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Passing the ‘chimp test’: how women were key to the birth of language
How did humans learn to talk and why haven’t chimpanzees followed suit? Linguistics expert Sverker Johansson busts some chauvinist myths

Steven Poole

28, Aug, 2021 @11:00 AM

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Crossword blog: the many pronunciations of ‘garage’ and ‘eyrie’
We look at words with multiple pronunciations and share distractions in our pick of the best of the broadsheets’ cryptic clues

Alan Connor

09, Aug, 2021 @10:29 AM

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Crossword blog: Boris’s bendy bananas – and do we say ‘stroke’ or ‘backslash’ in web addresses?
We recall Boris Johnson’s 90s Brussels-bashing and explore the etiquette of how to say URLs in our look at the best of the broadsheets’ cryptic clues

Alan Connor

26, Jul, 2021 @10:07 AM

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Sugar-tax goes sour: why does the word ‘nanny’ terrify Tories?
The response to the National Food Strategy included a fresh round of rightwing ‘nanny state’ denunciations. So what’s behind the phrase?

Steven Poole

22, Jul, 2021 @3:00 PM

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Crossword blog: sail forth! Did a skimming Scottish stone really become a schooner?
Dodgy etymology for ships and drinking glasses is dusted down in our review of the broadsheets’ best cryptic clues

Alan Connor

12, Jul, 2021 @10:47 AM

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Annoying mispronunciations: do they make you go nucular? Probly
How did specific become pacific and neckties become assessories? If you’re regularly annoyed by the misuse of language, a new survey shows you are certainly not alone

23, Jun, 2021 @5:24 PM

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Crossword roundup: the joys of unintended eating – is ‘snaccident’ a word?
New language and portmanteau words for wayward snacking in our pick of the best of the cryptic clues

Alan Connor

14, Jun, 2021 @10:50 AM

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