Dictionaries Keeping Up with English

 

Any dictionary worth its salt (and where did that come from?) needs to keep growing.

The Washington and Lee University Library subscribes to the online sites of the two preeminent dictionaries of the English language and both of them recently revealed extensive additions to their empires of words.

Merriam-Webster Unabridged, the contemporary heir to Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, is our most comprehensive guide to terminology in the modern English-language , at least, that of the American variety.   This database recently was enhanced by the addition of about 850 words and definitions, including glamping, dumpster fire, and mansplain.
This site also keeps tabs on the entries most often consulted in its collection; it should not be surprising that pi was heavily viewed around 3/14/18 and that Ides trended the next day.

The world’s preeminent etymological dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary, is focused on documenting the history of English-language words, so their “new” words probably are not likely newly-born in 2017-18.   Still, the OED‘s research into where words came from and how they have changed in meaning and/or spelling continues, with their latest list of new/old words and definitions  including ransomware, footsie, and the intriguing diaper cake.

Certainly, both resources are worth their salt.

Kerner Commission Report

 

Fifty years ago this week one of the most famous “government documents” in modern times was published.

On 29 February 1968 the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, forever known as the Kerner Commission (for its chairman, Governor Otto Kerner of Illinois), released its report on the causes of racial and economic unrest in the United States, reaching the chilling conclusion that “Our Nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal.”    The report was initially released as a free Federal Government publication and actually was reprinted commercially as a paperback and became a national best-seller, eventually out-selling the Warren Commission report on the assassination of President John Kennedy.

The W&L University Library has a printed copy of the Commission’s original release (along with a volume of supporting studies), as well as the commercially-published version.    It also is available without-charge and in its entirety in Google Books.

In 2018 many news sources, such as National Public Radio, are noting the 50th anniversary of the report and calling attention to the release of a new study which seeks to update the Kerner Commission’s work for our times.  The library has ordered a printed copy of this new book, Healing Our Divided Society.

 

[from Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders]