Tag Archives: Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s Earliest Citations in the OED

No author’s representation in the OED has received more comment than Shakespeare’s: if you ever come across a mention of OED citation evidence, more than likely it’s being used to substantiate (sometimes challenge or qualify) a claim that Shakespeare invented the most English words, or made up the most new meanings for existing words, or […]

Guest Post: Strong and Weak Genre Classification

Over the summer we’re featuring guest posts by Research Assistants at The Life of Words. Here Cosmin Dzsurdzsa – a 2nd year undergraduate in English at UW – thinks about moving from human intuition to computer rule-making in textual-genre classification: When trying to automate text classification algorithmically, one has to pay close attention to how […]

Life of Words Poetry Competition

Good news for Ontario secondary school students who like words: The Life of Words is announcing the first in what will be an annual poetry competition, in which we invite submissions of poems about words and reward excellence with some pretty great prizes. Here is the competition web page, where we’ll post links, news, and […]

Subsequent OED Quotations

You sometimes hear that Shakespeare contributed more words to the English language than anyone else. This claim is based on searches of the quotation evidence in the 2nd edition of the OED. In OED2, Shakespeare is the most-cited single-author source [33,131 quotations], and the most first-cited source in an entry [first evidence for 2,017 words], […]

The Queen’s English – Respec’

Looking through some graduate work the other day I came across a reference to “the Queen’s English,” in scare quotes, used in the general sense to describe the phenomenon of socially privileged dialect (as opposed to a specific British class dialect). I’ve never heard “the Queen’s English” actually referred to positively or unironically. In my […]

“Chickadee” an “Authorism”?

This morning while watching a small horde of black-capped chickadees [a banditry or dissimulation of chickadees, you might say, or just a flock] taking turns at the feeder, a I had a quick look through Paul Dickson’s Authorisms: Words Wrought by Authors. The book is a list of literary neologisms and their attributions. There are […]

Hello, baby!

What did people say to babies before the 1820s? Some weeks ago my two-month old daughter began to smile. The internet has this to say about how to encourage babies to do more of that: Smile widely at her and offer a warm “hello” in that sing-song pitch parents do so well. [webmd.com] My wife […]