Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: words

“Wordnik Is Looking for a Million Missing Words—Can You Help?”


The title of this post was the subject line of an email I got yesterday. Wordnik

Wordnik is an online dictionary/thesaurus; and, if you didn’t know, a thesaurus is what shows you the synonyms of words. And, Wordnik also shows you a word’s etymology—its word-history

Or, in their own words, “…we’re the world’s biggest and friendliest English dictionary.”

Then, they told me:

“This is just a quick email to let you know that Wordnik launched a Kickstarter campaign today!”

Before I share about the Kickstarter campaign, I should let Wordnik tell you a bit more about itself:

“Every word at Wordnik gets its own full page, with as much data shown as possible: a standard definition (if one already exists), example sentences; synonyms, antonyms, and other related words; space for community-added tags, lists, and comments; images from Flickr and tweets from Twitter; and statistics on usage, including how many times a word has been favorited, listed, tagged, commented-upon, and, of course, whether or not it’s valid in Scrabble (and how many points it scores).”

And, here’s more about the Kickstarter campaign:

“We want to find a million words that haven’t been included in major English dictionaries and give them each a home on the Internet.

“At Wordnik we believe that every word of English deserves to be lookupable!

“The internet is, for all practical purposes, infinite. Wordnik can and should include every English word that’s ever been used.”

Why?

“Every word deserves a recorded place in our language’s history. We want to collect, preserve, and share every word of English, and provide a place where people can find, learn, annotate, comment on, and argue about every word.

“If you want to know more about a word—any word!—we want to help you find the information you need. If you’re curious about a word, why should you have to wait until someone else decides that a word is worth knowing?”

And, in case you need even more reason to go check out the Kickstarter campaign:

“We already have all these words in English! They exist right now in articles, books, blog posts, and even tweets. But they’ve never all been recorded in one place where they can be discovered and loved.

“Have you ever felt that the right word was out there, but you just couldn’t find it?

“Have you ever learned a weird word that made your whole day? Perhaps a word like thoil, which means ‘to be able to justify the expense of a purchase’? Or pandiculation, which means ‘yawning and stretching (as when first waking up)’?”

Here’s Wordnik’s Kickstarter link again :-)
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Two Words Left Out of Most of The Book World’s News . . .


So much news about e-books, traditional publishers, and Amazon—so little about libraries and bookstores…

Libraries and Bookstores

Image Courtesy of Brenton Nicholls ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/bjn

It can seem like words, no matter how well strung together, are just some commodity—market them aggressively—package ’em up and ship ’em out…

And, even though libraries and bookstores are attempting to integrate e-books into their offerings, more creativity and commitment are necessary…

I’ve posted quite a bit about e-books and libraries—not so much about bookstores; though, “Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores” is probably worth a read :-)

So, what do you think or feel about bookstores and libraries?

Do you still use them?

Do you think they’ll disappear?

I found two articles about e-books and libraries that are not focused on the U.S.A.:

Report: Libraries Struggling with E-books

European Library Bureau Campaigns For eBooks in Libraries

Do you think libraries should have as much access to e-books as the retailers have?

Will libraries become all-digital?

I also found a fascinating article about bookstores—Let’s Reinvent The Bookshop.

One telling excerpt from that article—“Curious to explore this territory, we asked four leading architecture and design practices to create a shop. Specifically, in the age of Amazon and e-books, a bookshop to save bookshops.”

Do you think all brick-and-mortar bookstores will disappear?

Do you think bookstores can save themselves by integrating e-books?

When’s the last time you visited a bookstore?

Would you be happy if they all went away?

It’s always a gamble trying to predict the future; though, there’s nothing wrong with holding a vision of the future and working hard to bring it into reality…

Are we doomed to a future that’s only digital?

Do you know people who are envisioning a future with “real” bookstores and libraries?
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Do We Really Understand The Words We Use?


Last month I wrote a post called Is That Really A Word?? which included a great video from a woman who helps decide what dictionaries say.

And, while the average person may not consult a dictionary very often, writers certainly should—especially if they have the slightest doubt about meanings…

Naturally, if the writer has no doubt yet is misinformed about the meaning of certain words, they’re spreading confusion.

So, in the interests of clear meaning and thanks to an article on Lifehack about words used incorrectly, I give you, below, their list of 25 Common Words That You’ve Got Wrong. Do go to that link to read what many folks think these words mean vs what they actually mean—with good examples of use.

Heads-Up: a couple of the words in the list mean Nothing :-)

And, to soothe the brains of a few weary writers, here’s what they say at the end of the article:

“The English language is a finicky one but it’s also ever changing. Words are updated and definitions change. New words are added every year and some are retired. Very few people will ever master the entire language and the rest of us will just have to do the best we can!”

Which of these words do you get wrong?

Irony

Travesty

Ultimate

Conversate

Peruse

Bemused

Compelled

Nauseous

Redundant

Enormity

Terrific

Effect

Disinterested

Irregardless

Chronic

i.e.

Decimate

Panacea

Fortuitous

Plethora

Total

Literally

Can

Defective

Obsolete

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Is That Really A Word??


I’ve written a number of posts explaining how I understand words—one of the slipperiest things we humans use.

Words

Image by Christian Ferrari ~ http://christian-ferrari.blogspot.com/

I was deep in discussion with my Best Friend last night and she made the eloquent observation that words are, in fact, slippery…

It seems that words come from some other realm, change meanings like chameleons, and slip our minds like cat burglars.

Of course, I’m only talking about English words because I have scant understanding of other languages—languages which have donated many words to English.

But, I do love to look up word histories when my writing demands control over deeper meanings.

I often use an Online Etymology Dictionary for those listings of the roots of words…

Two other cool word-study sites:

Wordwizard

The Sciolist

And, here are a few fun word lists.

And, once words are born and start growing up—especially in their adolescence—they pretend they mean new things and they start mating and acting like they’re really some other word.

One simple example—“bad” means “good”…

So, since I’m merely a maverick explorer of the surreal landscape of words, I thought it best to call in an expert.

Anne Curzan is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of English at the University of Michigan. She also holds faculty appointments in the Department of Linguistics and the School of Education.

That may seem to make her some dry-as-dust person to invite into this blog but I can assure you she’s quite capable of talking just like the rest of us :-)

In fact, she has a remarkable ability to understand how the rest of us use words, even those adolescent ones…


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“Who Says Words with My Mouth”


I want to ask you a favor

A favor you can do for yourself

I’m asking anyone reading this post; but, especially, the writers (active or potential writers)

Ponder the title of this post for a few minutes, then write down what you feel it means

………

OK, I’ll venture to say that what you wrote is a key to who you really are—beyond your body, beyond your cares, beyond the pressures of daily living

That line is from a poem by Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi who lived from 1207 to 1273 in what is now Afghanistan.

The most honored translator of Rumi is Coleman Barks from Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Mr. Barks will read the poem that line is from in the video below.

I must quote Druzelle Cederquist, who also used the video on her blog, when she says, about Rumi, “…he asks the questions buried in our own hearts, that he digs deep but delivers with a light touch, capturing the heart with a voice that plays between humor and haunting longing. That he takes us to the threshold of answers, no further, and invites us to follow the trail he has blazed to find the answers for ourselves.”

In the blog post that quote is from, Druzelle mentions Bahá’u’lláh, Who quotes Rumi in His own mystical Writings and spent 40 years of His life in banishment and exile.

Bahá’u’lláh said:

“True loss is for him whose days have been spent in utter ignorance of his self.”

And, again, for anyone reading this (but, especially for the writers), “Who Says Words with My Mouth” could refer to your inner Self speaking and you wondering where the words came from

So, put together Rumi’s poem, Coleman Barks voice, a movie of a street in San Francisco in the early 1900s, and music by Claude Debussy and you get a video that is a marvel of a mash-up :-) {Supreme thanks to my Best Friend for sending a link to this video in my email…}


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