Saturday, July 01, 2006

pretending I'm Wm Saphire for a minute

One of the great advantages of being affiliated with a big American university is access to the library, which in this day and age includes any number of databases, journals, reference works, etc online. This means that while living in Italy, I can use their services daily. I get a kick out of foiling the NYTimes online's attempts to gradually convert ever greater parts of their site to subscription only, creeping through the back door with Factiva or other fulltext services to see the latest Michael Pollan or editorials.

All of which is great for staying on top of the news, or at least the news that does not involve soccer players or their girlfriends, former royalty turned mafiabuddy-prostitutionkingpin-gamblingimpresario, the sexual predations of politicos, or
other antics of silvio and his robber-baron buddies. But for nerd-ly satisfaction, the Oxford Emglish Dictionary online can't be beat.

Today I logged onto the OED with my morning coffee to find an etymology (doesn't everyone wake up with a burning desire to know how 'snorkel' weaseled its way into the English language?). These were listed on the main page as recent additions to the Oxford English Dictionary:
First impression: the OED editors have been hanging out in New York. Second: 'yada yada...' is a good addition, but the etymology offered is "Imitative of the sound of human speech, prob. influenced by (or perh. an alteration of) YATTER n." -- isn't it Yiddish? I'm nearly positive it's Yiddish. Third: 'bouncebackability'? So maybe I'm a linguistic conservative, but what's next? 'sticktoitiveness'? And fourth: 'air kiss' just smacks of socialite affectations. My suspicion that socialite slang might be included while other 'lesser' types would not turns out to be unfounded. A cursory review reveals that 'ho' and 'ghetto blaster' are actually in the OED, and phrases like "ghetto fabulous" can be found in the quotes.

Another linguistic note: the road to hell is paved with emoticons (ugh, even the name irks). I refuse to cave to the semi-literacy that enables that practice.


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