Oxford English Dictionary

Now, as adherents of the great and terrible AP Stylebook — which also eschews the Oxford comma — we must admit the moral of this story flies in the face of everything (or one thing) NPR’s own sentences stand for.

But we offer these stories as a reminder that every punctuation mark deserves a fair hearing, a glimpse into the glories of grammar(,) and a quiet rebellion against the tyranny of copy editors everywhere.*

*Just a joke, NPR copy desk! Please don’t break out the red pen.

The Oxford Comma: Great For Listing, Pontificating, And Winning Court Cases

Image by Chelsea Beck/NPR


William Chester Minor graduated from Yale Medical School in 1863 with a degree and a specialization in comparative anatomy. By May of 1864 he was a surgeon in the Union army. He served at the Battle of the Wilderness, which is known for being a very brutal and bloody fight with many casualties on both sides. He also was once given the job of branding a soldier with a red hot D, for deserter, on his face. On his off time he would visit the local brothels, something his commanders didn’t really approve of. They sent him to Florida where his paranoia began to really show itself. He became scared of his fellow officers, afraid they would hurt him. The army sent him to an institution and he was diagnosed with having a mental illness. He was released after 18 months.

In 1871 he moved to London and unfortunately he became even more paranoid. He felt that he was always being followed by an unknown group, he even went to Scotland Yard with his fears but they couldn’t help. On February 17th, 1872, he awoke and saw what he thought was someone at the end of his bed. Terrified, he grabbed his pistol and chased this phantom intruder out into the street. Sadly he ran into a man named George Merrett who was on his way to work, and mistook him for his constant pursuers. He shot and killed Merrett on the street. He was arrested and sent to trial.

During the trial it came to light that he had been seeing people following him since his release from the American asylum. Also the prison guards who watched him while he awaited the trial testified he would wake up screaming, claiming to have been sexually abused by people living in the floorboards and in the walls. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to Broadmoor asylum. He wasn’t considered a serious threat and had a pension from the army which would help pay his bills, so he was given a comfortable cell and access to books and writing materials.

He soon found out that the Oxford English Dictionary, still being written, was looking for volunteers to help get the english language on paper. He became one of the most prolific contributors the dictionary folks had. Through his vast collection of books and access to a good library he was able to gather quotes that explained how particular words were used. The dictionary people would even compile lists of words for him to look up and find the right quotes to make it work. Even the wife of the man he murdered would visit often, bringing him books for his collection. In 1899 Dr. James Murray, the O.E.D’s editor, said of Minor “We could easily illustrate the last four centuries from his quotations alone.”

Sadly Minor’s condition worsened over the years. In 1902, because he thought he was being taken from the hospital and flown all over the world to sexually assault children, he cut off his penis. In 1910 he was released and deported back to America to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. He was diagnosed with dementia praecox, a chronic and deteriorating psychotic disorder. In 1919 he was moved to the Retreat for the Elderly Insane in Hartford, Connecticut and the next year he passed away.

Pictured above: William Chester Minor, a depiction of the Battle of the Wilderness, an O.E.D pamphlet asking for volunteers, a few more shots of Minor and his library, Broadmoor Asylum and lastly his grave.



Godwin’s law (or Godwin’s rule of Hitler analogies) is an Internet adage that asserts that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1.” - that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler or his deeds.

Promulgated by American attorney and author Mike Godwin in 1990, Godwin’s law originally referred specifically to Usenet newsgroup discussions. It is now applied to any threaded online discussion, such as Internet forums, chat rooms, and comment threads, as well as to speeches, articles, and other rhetoric where reductio ad Hitlerumoccurs.

In 2012, “Godwin’s law” became an entry in the third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.” (x)


seventeen initials x characteristics (part one)

Chavs & Lads (Wikipedia Defined)

This is what they’ve tried so hard to portray Louis as…a caricature of this classist bullshit, all while portraying Harry as the posh, exclusive, designer-beloved darling. 

It’s like they went through Wikipedia and made a marketing plan for Louis.

Chav (/ˈtʃæv/ chav) is a pejorative epithet used in Britain to describe a particular stereotype

The Oxford English Dictionary defines chav as an informal British derogatory, meaning “a young lower-class person who displays brash and loutish behaviour and wears real or imitation designer clothes”.

Besides referring to loutish behaviour, violence, and particular speech patterns, the chav stereotype includes wearing branded designer sportswearThey have been described as adopting “black culture”, and use some Jamaican patois in their slang.

Lad culture (also laddish culture and laddism) is a British subculture initially associated with the Britpop movement. Arising in the early 1990s, the image of the “lad” – or “new lad” – was that of a generally middle class figure espousing attitudes typically attributed to the working classes. The subculture involves young men assuming an anti-intellectual position, shunning sensitivity in favour of drinking, violence, and sexism.

Lad culture… present images of laddishness that are dominated by the male pastimes of drinking, watching football, and sex.

Louis likes football. Harry likes designer clothing. But they do not exist in vacuums created solely by Adidas and Saint Laurent. These images are intentionally divisive, and, in Louis’ case, insulting! 

We can’t stop the portrayal of these images (at least right now). But we can recognize them, recognize their intentions, and call them out.

anonymous asked:

I have a friend who is a real stickler for correct grammar, how do I explain to him that them/they pronouns are grammatically correct and can be used singularly? He's the kind of person that will argue about this for hours so I am not sure how to explain my correct pronouns without getting him and myself frustrated.

Kii says:

So, fortunately for you, both APA and MLA accept they as a singular pronoun, and it has also been used singularly by Geoffrey Chaucer (”the father of the English language”) as well as Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Walt Whitman, and many translations of the Bible. The Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary also list a singular usage of the word. There really is no excuse for your friend to say it’s grammatically incorrect, because it’s not. 

On Feb. 1, 1884, the first fascicle of the Oxford English Dictionary was published. But that isn’t where the OED story begins.

It all started 27 years earlier, when a group of old brainy guys in London (they called themselves the Philological Society of London and, incidentally, they still exist) decided that all of the dictionaries then in existence were inadequate. By 1858, they had made official plans to remedy that problem. Their method? They recruited a boatload of volunteers to comb through all of English literature and record words and their usage on slips of paper.

One of the more famous of these volunteers was a man named W. C. Minor, an American surgeon who, it turns out, was doing the research from his cell in the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. Minor, a graduate of Yale and an officer in the Civil War, had been imprisoned for killing a man in London. (I wonder which volunteer was responsible for the dictionary’s definition of the word murder …)

By the time the first fascicle was published, our band of merry wordsmiths was not even close to the “M” section: It covered 8,365 words, or “a” through “ant.”

Photo: liz west via flickr

Dictionary Fans Might Squee: OED Adds New Words, Because YOLO
A fusty old tome? Fuhgeddaboudit. The Oxford English Dictionary regularly updates to reflect English's evolution.

Other new additions to the dictionary include:

  • biatch and associated spellings — beeotch, beoch, beotch, beyotch, biotch, biyotch, beeoch — that express the same variation of “bitch”
  • bracketology, the art practiced during March Madness — and, it turns out, a term for the practice of filling in the gaps in an old manuscript with one’s best guess at the missing words
  • cheeseball, as in the food item and a foolish or unoriginal person
  • moobs, aka man boobs
  • T-bone, the verb for a particular kind of car crash
  • transporter, as in the Star Trek technology
  • uptalk, or that rise in voice that suggests a question?
  • yogalates, for yoga combined with Pilates

** Moobs? Is that really a thing? -Ariel

i’m asking you (what you know about these things)

[jonxsansa, modern au, ~5k+]

said there’s no mistakin’
what i feel is really love

—sam smith (whitney houston cover)  

When Sansa had received the gold-leaf invitation to celebrate Loras Tyrell and Renly Baratheon’s spring wedding, her expectations were high. She had known Loras since high school—indeed, she was best friends with his sister Margaery to this day, five years after their graduation—and as such she had come to know the Tyrells to be the most extravagant of families. As a young woman with equally lavish tastes, Sansa had gotten on with them famously.

While never quite so bold or, at times, rather outlandish as Margaery and Loras, because of their influence Sansa had gained a sense of poise and sophistication well beyond that of her own family. That’s not to say that the Starks were not held in high esteem. But Catelyn Stark had always said that while all of her children had been born with silver spoons in their mouths, her eldest daughter had grown up to fashion hers into a crown. Sansa had once taken offense to that, thinking her mother meant to make a materialistic fool of her, but as she grew older she gained a better perspective.

Not one among their elite set did not have a taste for the finer things—not even her younger sister, Arya, much as she would like to pretend otherwise—and Sansa simply accepted her good fortune and used it to do good by herself and others. Margaery felt the need to point this out at every availability, usually when Sansa showed up to a social event with a less-than reputable beau on her arm. Which, even Sansa can admit in retrospect, is often. Loras’ wedding is no exception, although Sansa has yet to look at it in hindsight.  

Keep reading


FROM: Word Selection Committee of the Oxford Dictionary

TO: Staff

SUBJECT: Re: today’s new words

Dear Staff,

I know what you’re thinking: “Grats, idiots. You’ve destroyed the English language.”

You don’t like our new batch of words. You unlike our new batch of words. The Oxford Dictionary isn’t supposed to girl crush on Urban Dictionary. We’re supposed to be a gateway for the future of language, not some linguistic omnishambles for Generation Twerk. When trends like the Internet of things, MOOCs and space tourism crop up, the Oxford Dictionary is supposed to stick with tradition, not bandy about some vapid list of last season’s most fashionable acronyms (FIL? BYOD?), like we’re some A/W catalog previewing next season’s chandelier earrings for click and collect shoppers. (Even as I’m typing that sentence, I barely know what it means!) And lord, you’re thinking, if some Jersey Shore girl in a pixiecut with double-denim jorts and flatforms taking a selfie on her phablet is this generation’s William Shakespeare, you’re gonna straight up vom your street food.

I’ll admit, guac is a “new” word like bitcoin is a “real” currency.

But let me respond first by saying: Apols. Lately, we’ve been feeling a bit of FOMO about all the buzzworthy verbiage orbiting outside our hallowed pages. While initially it seemed a bit dappy to add nonsense like LDR and other ghastly abbrevs just because teens don’t have time to spell things out on Facebook Chat, the thing is, we can’t have our blondie cake pop and eat it, too.

It’s not this dictionary’s job to request a digital detox just because Web diction has shaved a fauxhawk into the English language. Rather, it’s our job to highlight the words that blend into the way we actually talk today. It’s kinda like linguistic balayage, if I truly understood what the heck balayage actually was.

So yes, our language is suffering from a food baby of derp these days. But it’s our job to adapt to the geek chic hackerspace – even if babymoons strike you as a dumb excuse for me time; even if pear cider remains an unacceptable alternative to beer; and even if emoji represents everything a good dictionary should be against.

TL;DR: Srsly, this is the future of language. Squee.