Word Wars

BBC News: Small object of grammatical desire.

It's small. It's flat. It's black. And according to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, its numbers are shrinking. Welcome to the world of the hyphen.  Having been around since at least the birth of printing, the hyphen is apparently enjoying a difficult time at the moment.  The sixth edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary has knocked the hyphens out of 16,000 words, many of them two-word compound nouns. Fig-leaf is now fig leaf, pot-belly is now pot belly, pigeon-hole has finally achieved one word status as pigeonhole and leap-frog is feeling whole again as leapfrog.

This goes with another BBC News article, Green issues colour dictionary, about new words in the OED relating to climate change and the environment.

Watched a fantastic video presentation by an enthusiastic lexicographer called Erin McKean, titled Redefining the dictionary, about how dictionaries are compiled, the future of dictionaries, and why lexicographers want to be fishing instead of directing traffic.  Didn't agree with everything she said, but it's fun to watch, if only for the opportunity to see someone use the word "synecdochical" in its proper context (and have the meaning explained).

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