#$*&^! = Grawlix

>> A word for that: Grawlix

Until its OED entry is solemnized, we’ll have to settle for this definition on Wiktionary: “grawlixn. A string of typographical symbols used (especially in comic strips) to represent an obscenity or swear word.” I don’t think I’ll ever look at a character set quite the same way again.

%^&*@ing glorious!

Read the whole thing at Hoefler & Frere-Jones (via @GrammarMonkeys and @mental_floss)

A Kindleworm by any other name (and exciting news for OED lovers)

[EDIT: Sadly, http://www.oed.com no longer works, and even the link to it from Oxford Dictionaries Online is broken. Sincerest apologies on my behalf for getting us all excited, and for not realising sooner.]

The straw that finally broke my anti-Kindle camel’s back was the fact that Kindle comes loaded with the full Oxford English Dictionary [ALSO EDIT: I meant (and still mean) the Oxford Dictionary OF English. I unforgivably use OED as a generic term, though I know there are some who would drop a thesaurus on my head for such an offence.], thus overcoming the two main obstacles previously prohibiting my access to said lexicographical bible: price, and bulk. (My only other accessway was online, through the student login left over from my university days. Not coincidentally, that student login is my favourite souvenir as an alumnus).

Anyway, I bought a Kindle as soon as I realised this (while playing Scrabble in a Kindle-owning friend’s dictionary-less house). And thereafter, when asked whether Kindle “is good?”, my most likely answer has been “IT HAS THE *WHOLE* OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY *IN* IT. YES is good.”

Now this doesn’t mean I no longer love “real” books. I do. Very much.

I have an inconveniently large number of books in my new home. (At least, relocating them from my old home – and chromatically arranging them again – was inconvenient.)

I also have one of these…

…on my desk at work.

Yes, it’s a giant fuzzy bookworm, otherwise known as helluo librorum.

WAIT A MINUTE.

Helluo librorum.

The OED is online!

Free!

Searchable!

No subscription (or university alumnus login) required!


And @OxfordWords tweets the Word Of The Day!

Now this doesn’t mean I no longer love Kindle…

.

The Oxford comma: dead at the hands of serial killers

I give a #%*^ about the Oxford comma.  I’m known for giving a #%*^ about the Oxford comma. But sadly, this sudden palaver over its threatened extinction (at the hands of its eponymous university, no less) is just a bureaucratic nail in an already-long-buried coffin. As a proofreader in Australia, I must (at least during working hours) adhere to the ‘current trends’ in Australian writing style, and that means NO SERIAL COMMAS EVER (except if absolutely needed for the sake of clarity, which isn’t any fun at all).

So as far as I’m (professionally) concerned, the Oxford comma has already been eradicated, or is at least seriously endangered, teetering on the brink of extinction. It lingers only as a ghost, destroyed by a gradual succession of serial killers*: style guides in ruthless pursuit of minimalist punctuation.

R, I, P.

Over at Salon.com, Mary Elizabeth Williams has already said almost everything else I would say on the topic. Most importantly, she a) clarifies the extent to which Oxford University is eliminating its eponymous comma (that is, no more than most institutions already have); and b) embedded the obvious Vampire Weekend video clip.

Now, two things about this video clip: Firstly, its total number of hits must have jumped phenomenally in the past 24 hours. Secondly, IT WAS DIRECTED BY THE WONDERFUL RICHARD AYOADE (of The IT Crowd, of course). And if that isn’t a joyful note on which to end a sombre post, I don’t know what is.

*Yes, I went there.

40 literary terms you should know (and 4 reasons why)


40 literary terms you should know

Why should you read and/or bookmark this list?

1) It is interesting and informative. If you don’t know the meaning of bildungsroman or hamartia, you need to read this.

2) I found it via Elmo Keep. Once upon a time, Elmo taught me all about teh interwebz at university, and I probably didn’t do all the recommended readings for that course, so we can (collectively, retrospectively) make up for it now by reading something recommended by her.

3) The self-referential humour in entry #30 is quite self-referentially humorous.

4) Entry #40 is one of my favourite words: verisimilitude.


Go forth and learn!

Read (v.): This article is cooler than a frappawhatsit

The Joy of Indefinite Words: Is a Spillion More than a Metric Buttload?

As a fan of “it’s eleventy bagillion hot outside”*, I adore this image and the accompanying article in equal measures.

Here’s an excerpt, if you need convincing:

“The Oxford English Dictionary traces “zillion” back to a 1944 quote: “I love him a zillion dollars’ worth.”…

These words are just the tip of the whatsit-berg. The lexical banquet of the web has produced more than a smattering of creative, bonkers words, many playing on “thingamajig.” Some are specific, like “tupperware-thingy-majigger,” “blog-site-location-amajig,” “twittermajiggy,” and “frappawhatsit”…”

See? It’s eleventy awesome.

*No really, it is. Sydney has become trapped in the (fierce, sweaty) grip of a late-Summer heatwave. We’re dying. Send ice-cream**.

** Prompted by the recent acquisition of an ice-cream machine, I’ve been pondering whether it’s correct to hyphenate “ice-cream” even in its noun form (noting that hyphenation is a given when it’s used as a compound adjective). My eyePhone does so automatically, and I tend not to trust such ‘corrections’… but I’ve just checked the OED, and it too hyphenates “ice-cream (n.)”. I’m sold (though not cold).