Saturday, May 2, 2020

Words with Fiends

Is there a word in English for something we don't have a word for in English?

Bookin’ It

self-promotion, books

As I announced on Tuesday, I have decided to publish a book containing three of my stories. It’ll be self-published through Amazon, and you likely have opinions about self-published vs. traditionally published books. That’s fine; I’ve had my own inner squabble about that subject, but in the end I decided that I didn’t need to wait for permission, that I shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and about seventeen other bromides. In part, I was inspired by other people in my life who have happily gone the self-publishing route, people like Randy Clark, Tony Noland, James Harbeck, and Rue Sparks.

That last name is a special one, because the first thing I did with my federal stimulus check was commission Rue to create the cover image. And here’s the exciting part: You can watch Rue actually create the cover image LIVE on their Twitch channel tomorrow (Sunday, May 3) starting at 1 p.m. If I’m remembering correctly, you don’t have to create a Twitch account to watch the livestream, but you do have to have an account to post to the live chat, for what I hope is an obvious reason. (Because human beings are horrible.) I’ll post the direct link on Facebook and Twitter as soon as I get it.

As far as the book is concerned, I’m hoping to have it available on May 13, depending on how soon I can pull together all the pieces and how quickly Amazon can get me a proof copy. Look for it in the right sidebar →.

A Way To-Go

podcast, word people

You listen to A Way with Words, right? Either over the radio, or as a podcast? If not — or even if you do — you should read what Mary “Comma Queen” Norris wrote this week about the show and its hosts, Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett, for The New Yorker. (She calls the show “Car Talk for lexiphiles,” which is both spot-on and a great compliment.)

I miss Car Talk.

Warren Piece

etymology, genealogy

James Harbeck this morning published a post on Sesquiotica that is ostensibly a deep dive down the rabbit hole that is the history and etymological extended family of the word warren (and the name Warren) but is in the end a nice little tribute to his father for his 80th birthday.

Hold My Beer, Adolf

onomastics, weirdness

Some names fall out of favor because of the associations they create, like the aforementioned Adolf. Some names start to sound old-fashioned, go out of style, and then, inexplicably, erupt into popular again. And some names, well, some names most people just never thought of as being names; those are the ones that end up on the Name of the Year bracket.

Vulture is hosting the semifinals for the 2020 Name of the Year contest. The remaining "competitors" are Mathdaniel Squirrel, Kokain Mothershed, Courvoisier Dingle, and Beanbag Amerika.

And let me be clear: These aren’t names that were foisted on newborns in the last year; each of these semifinalists is a living, grown-ass adult who could, at any time, legally change their name to Bill or Sue or Jean. Or even Adolf.

Video of the Week

video, idioms

An oldie but a goody: Finnish comedian Ismo thinks that ass is probably the most complicated word in the English language. He thought it simply meant “butt,” but that was only the tip of the assberg.

Big Dictionary Energy

dictionaries, history, resource

This year’s annual conference of ACES: The Society for Editing was, like so many other conferences, canceled. A large stet of editors should have been gathered in Salt Lake City this week for three days of education, networking, and camaraderie, but, well, you know.

But the Society rallied; yesterday, they took four of the conference presentations to Zoom. Participation in each was limited to the first thousand people — and yes, most of them sold out.

If you weren’t there, you’ve missed it. But, as I understand it, these sessions are going to be posted and available for free to all next week. Wordies will likely be interested in Merriam-Webster lexicographer Peter Sokolowski’s (@PeterSokolowski) “The Invention of the Modern American Dictionary.” Or, if you’re more interested in shining some light in the darkest corners of English grammar, check out Lisa McClendon’s (@MadamGrammar) “Grammar Arcana” (which might have actually gotten ablaut reduplication trending on Twitter). If editing is more on your mind, the other two are “Developing a Quality Editorial Process End-to-End” and “What’s New in the AP Style Guide,” the latter presented by actual editors of the AP Stylebook.

Keep your eye on the ACES website next week for more information and links.

Meta Short Story

etymology, word history, self-promotion

For this week’s In a Word column, “An Anecdotal Word History,” I tell the brief story of the source of our word anecdote. It goes back to a 6th-century Byzantine political tell-all that was so scandalous the author kept it under wraps until after his death.

If Loose Lips Sink Ships, What Do Loose Ends Sink?

British English, idioms

I’ve been stuck at home by myself for more than a month now — you probably have, too — and more and more I’m finding myself at loose ends. Or am I at loose end? Turns out, as Lynne Murphy explains at Separated by a Common Language — I’m a bit of both, regardless of whether I’m speaking British or American.

Original featured image from The Public Domain Review.