Around the Web: Nobels, Twitter and Dying Alphabets

Herman Melville

It’s prize time! Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize in Literature. The New Yorker has kindly made many of her stories available for free. Eleanor Catton won the Man Booker Prize, and the National Book Award finalists were announced (with free excerpts).

And now a look at words in the wild:

Auto-antonyms and other unusuable terms.

Twitter founders used a print dictionary to determine the now-ubiquitous brand name. #longreads

Ben Schott makes up 17 funny and useful words based on absurd Germanic compounds.

Is the Internet killing non-Latin alphabets? No, it might be saving them.

Melville’s marginalia.

Can you write English under pressure? We can. (Tell us how far you made it in the comments.)

Predictions for next week’s language news:

More musicians/celebrities/sycophants will write open letters to Miley Cyrus about her grammar use.

Want more language news? Check out last week’s installment.


  1. Joe Kayany -  April 24, 2015 - 5:34 am

    A quote from the article above – “The New Yorker has kindly made many of her stories available for free.”

    A quote from a story on Apple watch release in ZDNet today – “Please note that appointments cannot be made at the store and we kindly ask you not to queue.”

    In both, the word ‘kindly’ is used. The first one refers to the ‘kindness’ of the New Yorker but whose kindness does the second quote reference? – the store owner’s or the customer’s?

  2. elaine -  October 25, 2013 - 12:21 pm

    While reading the article I cringed at the sentence which included the words, for free. The use of the word, for is unnecessary. I wish someone would devote an article to this nails on chalkboard usage.:(

  3. =^.^= MEOW TIGER MEOW! -  October 24, 2013 - 4:12 pm

    xD MILEY SUCKS!!! And tbh i hate most famous people… hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha….

  4. enjay -  October 22, 2013 - 10:31 pm


  5. Erfinsaputradewa -  October 22, 2013 - 10:52 am

    Artine apa ch

  6. anthony -  October 22, 2013 - 8:07 am

    i got to level 8 before i got kicked off.

  7. Stefan / SHEEZO -  October 21, 2013 - 12:18 pm

    The prevalence of twitter, shortened data input (140 characters), and facades of pleasantries, indirect comments (with a subjective viewpoint) within social media is matched by terrorist claims in the real world.

    Fear contributes to the breakdown of social relationships, linguistic extinction, and an aversion to speak out or standup for personal rights and property. The information overload makes the masses less attentive, and more deception (by using polemics, etc.) can occur from leaders and governing bodies.

    In contrast, the DIY/ digital environment calls for people to be more direct, confidant, and strong. It is not about identifying basic technology in our lives, its about technology advancing our lifestyles and making them calmer, not more hectic.

  8. chris -  October 21, 2013 - 5:38 am


  9. David -  October 20, 2013 - 2:11 pm


  10. wolf tamer and tree puncher -  October 20, 2013 - 6:33 am

    @Lily: I totally agree!

    Um…what’s the grammar game they liked? I am a huge wordplay fan. Silly words make me laugh.

  11. Ray -  October 18, 2013 - 7:37 pm

    2. What I’d actually wished to address, before diverting through ibidem, was to remark that I’ve found in my study of protolinguistics (evidenced by archaic Egyptian and Sumerian languages), language constructions need not be over ‘phonetically distinct alphabets’–

    e.g. the letter P in Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and its remnant in Greek, seems to have been a compounded-sound, ops-to-opf, to-be-clarified: that is to say, by the speaker or by the spoken the sound is modified–

    e.g. the P in Egyptian SPDT, “Sothis” in the Greek ear, was maybe O;
    e.g. the P in Egyptian ANWP, “Anubis” in the Greek ear, was near PS;
    e.g. the P in Mesopotamian PRTTU, “Euphrates” G.E., was near OpF;
    e.g. the Greek pi-var ϖ looks like omega-bar… meaning as I said, OP.

    (And won’t mention the tendency to unbe-speak alot by doting the “I”.)

  12. Ray -  October 18, 2013 - 7:03 pm

    1. Your English Underpressure game seemed to be merely sentential incompleteness–like ‘Killer B’s: What, would you, do, confronted with:

    “Every day the boy on his bicycle runs over their.”
    A. dog.
    B. insert comma after day.
    C. insert comma after bicycle.
    D. append “lawn breaks another sprinkler head.”
    E. append “dog elicits howling.”
    F. insert a comma after lawn after inserting lawn.
    G. some combination of some of the above.

  13. Lily -  October 18, 2013 - 3:41 pm

    I think Miley Cyrus needs criticism on more than her grammar usage.

  14. Stacie -  October 18, 2013 - 10:54 am

    hahaha That game was awesome! It’d be fab as an app.
    I made it through half of level five before giggling too much to continue.

  15. luke -  October 18, 2013 - 10:21 am


  16. sparrow -  October 18, 2013 - 10:06 am



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