Archives For Word
To explore the psyche of a people, do not look at what they do–look at what they do wrong. Today, we introduce the Misspelling of the Year. A word that was looked up misspelled significantly more this year than the year before. A word with lots of different misspellings. A word in the news. The word: furlough.
In 2013, Dictionary.com saw tens of thousands of lookups of this word, often spelled without the ugh. Though the correct spelling is furlough, three variants ballooned in lookup volume: furlow was looked up 66 percent more in 2013 than it was in 2012, and furlo was looked up 60 percent more. We can’t calculate how many more times ferlow, which was in the top 10,000 words of 2013, was searched for because no one was searching for it in 2012.
The main reason folks were talking about furloughs was the October shutdown of the US government (sequester and sequestration searches also jumped 2.3 and 2.8 times relative to last year, but no one was misspelling those).
As for the misspellings. Well, it’s a rough road. The first uses in English were close to the Dutch: vorloffe and fore-loofe in the 1630s. You also get furloghs, furlows, and foreloffs in the early centuries of its use. Why on earth would we pronounce it “oh” but spell it “ough”? Cough cough. That’s tough. Though I have a few thoughts. Let’s step under this lovely bough. (It’s not as bad as it could be: hiccup was standardly spelled as hiccough for a few hundred years.) There are a lot of ways to say ‘g’, but we can’t go into all of them here.
Furlough wasn’t the only word that was giving folks trouble in 2013. In reviewing Dictionary.com’s misspellings of the year (I’d prefer to call them “nonstandard spellings” but the Spelling Despots among you would be at me with pitchphorks), three categories for types of misspellings emerged:
PERJUDICE and PERDJUICE for prejudice (think “pre judge” not “smoothie of perdition”)
PERCISE for precise (the -cise here is like in incision, so think “pre cut”)
ADAMIT for adamant (think “Wolverine has adamantium claws, not adamittens”)
AMETURE for amateur (the ama is about love, the -teur is for a doer, like actor in French is acteur; so think “French lover”)
AQUAINTED for acquainted (from the 1300s to about 1600 it didn’t have a “c” in English, you were born too late)
IFARED for infrared (awesome, don’t ever change)
TONSILECTOMY for tonsillectomy (two tonsils, two l’s to remove them)
ACHIEVMENT for achievement (spell “achieve” then add “ment”)
HIERACHICAL for hierarchical (sound it out?)
Just plain hard
EARY for eerie (at the end of the 18th century, suddenly English writers decided this word really needed a double “e,” sorry)
THROROUGH for thorough (this is probably just a typo)
INDITE for indict (the ending is related to dictionary or dictate–it’s talking about “saying,” you’re declaring an accusation)
IMAGRATION for immigration (look for “migrant” inside the word)
Studying nonstandard spellings also suggests some words that need to exist. An argu(e)ment can be made that assertation is a misspelling of assertion, but I would like to think it means something else. Like when someone just goes on and on asserting stuff to point that it feels like they’re reading you a dissertation.
But the word that is the best word in the whole data set and most needs your use and definitions: indiscrepancy. Go get it, Internet.
(Want to learn more about the many pronunciations of -ough? Check their slideshow here.) http://dictionary.reference.com/?sshow=ough&slide=1
Privacy is defined as “the state of being free from intrusion or disturbance in one’s private life and affairs.” The distinction between private and public predates the English language. In Ancient Rome, privatus and publicus were juxtaposed terms that distinguished that which belongs to the state (publicus) from that which belongs to the individual (privatus).
Now there are more variables in the equation: corporations collecting user data and millions of individuals with recording devices. Many of us have embraced social media, choosing to volunteer intimate particulars and personal photographs on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; this robust participation echoes an observation by Mark Zuckerberg in 2010 that the public’s comfort level with sharing personal information online is a “social norm” that has “evolved over time.” Even so, a recent survey by Harris Poll shows that young people are now monitoring and changing their privacy settings more than ever, a development that USA Today dubbed the “Edward Snowden effect.” In her eloquent and extensive history of the right to privacy in The New Yorker, Jill Lepore summarized these seemingly at-odds impulses surrounding privacy as “the paradox of an American culture obsessed, at once, with being seen and with being hidden, a world in which the only thing more cherished than privacy is publicity.”
On a global scale, early December saw the release of an open letter, signed by more than 500 world-renowned writers, urging the United Nations to create an international bill of digital rights. They highlighted the individual’s right “to remain unobserved and unmolested” in “thoughts, personal environments, and communications.” One of the signatories, Jeannette Winterson, asserts, “Privacy is an illusion. Do you mind about that? I do.” But the conversation doesn’t stop at the level of the individual; the very companies that the public feels a growing distrust for face their own higher-level privacy battles. Also in December, Apple, Google, Facebook, AOL, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo! signed a petition to the federal government beseeching them to impose limits on the government’s power to collect user data. As Shel Israel lays out in Forbes, in this digital age “trust will become the new currency,” and corporations are acutely aware of this.
As the discussion unfolds, we are scrutinizing what privacy means today, and in so doing, we wonder, does the definition of privacy need another clause? From whose intrusion do we want to be free? The government’s? Foreign governments’? Corporations’? Other individuals’? All of the above? The answer is the missing puzzle piece that we are deciding on together as the wavering definition of privacy solidifies.
Last year Oxford University Press split its word of the year honors between the US and the UK, but for 2013 there’s one word to rule them all — and it is “selfie.” The term beat out contenders like twerk, bitcoin, and binge-watch, due largely to its remarkable uptick in usage. According to research conducted by Oxford Dictionaries editors, the use of selfie has increased an incredible 17,000 percent since the same time last year.
While the term has certainly come into the mainstream over the past 12 months, its origins actually go much further back. The Oxford University Press discovered the term used in an Australian forum posting in 2002, where it was used to describe a photo the poster took of themselves after a drunken fall; the hashtag #selfie surfaced on Flickr two years later. Despite earning the year’s top honors, however, selfie is oddly not included in the Oxford English Dictionary itself. It is part of the online Oxford Dictionaries website, however, and is being considered for future inclusion in the OED as well.
This isn’t the first time that technology’s heavy influence on popular culture has resulted in a word of the year selection. In 2005 the US word of the year was “podcast,” while last last year’s US honors went to none other than the venerable GIF.
Sudbury student says Apple definition derogatory
Click here to see what they are: http://www.dailygood.org/story/522/eleven-untranslatable-words-from-other-cultures-ella-frances-sanders/