17 September 2005

Slang and reverse dictionary

Two items of fun from languagehat:

First, an interview with J.L. Lighter of UT on slang and his work on the much-anticipated final volumes of his "Historical Dictionary of American Slang" [ via languagehat -> Wordorigins -> Oxford University Press ]. And who doesn't love slang? It's the most ut. Interesting facts: no one knows the origin of "yankee," "dixie," or "jazz" (how can we not know the origin of such recent words?). "Spondulix" is slang for money (man, I'm using that one the first chance I get). No one ever uses the phrase "twenty-three skidoo" anymore, but everyone recognizes it (what's up with that?). In the 1600s and 1700s, "occupy" was a euphemism for sex (such ribaldry). Slang is interesting because it illustrates the slippery, changeability of language. These words are under the radar of standard English, so their origins and lives are more organic and volatile.

Second, a a reverse dictionary search [ via languagehat -> MonkeyFilter ]. This is one of those man-what-a-cool-tool things that will probably/unfortunately get lost in my bookmarks and forgotten for its infrequent need. Then again, I daily hit the dictionary and thesaurus for one reason or another. This might become an equally frequented site.

[ posted by sstrader on 17 September 2005 at 2:41:30 PM in Language & Literature ]