Guest Post: Moving from 2.0 to 3.0

Danielle Griffin recently completed her co-op term as a full-time research assistant at The Life of Words. Here she offers some thoughts about her work on identifying the textual genre of quotations in the Oxford English Dictionary: When I started my job as an RA, Dr. Williams had me tagging quotations five days a week […]


Competition Anthology Published

We’ve published our 2016 Life of Words Anthology, presenting fifteen meritorious poems sent to us in our “Write a Poem about a Word” competition. It’s available here: Congratulations to all!


Etymologies

Anstruther Press has recently published Etymologies, a chapbook of poems by Asa Boxer, with an introductory essay by me: See the page at Anstruther Press for more details.


Last Day to Submit a Poem for the 2016 Poetry Contest

Today is the last day for Ontario secondary school students to submit a poem to The Life of Words Poetry Competition 2016. Keep your eye on the contest page for upcoming news, and for eventual publication of The Life of Words Anthology 2016, which will print the winning entry and all honourable mentions. We’re received […]


How did OED Supplements Supplement?

There has always been an interest in the changing editorial practice within and between various editions of the Oxford English Dictionary. Recently some scholars have complained that changing electronic interfaces are making it impossible to distinguish what edition a particular definition or quotation is coming from. See, e.g., Charlotte Brewer, “OED Online Re-launched: Distinguishing old […]


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 […]


Vector Space and Poetic Logic

I’ve been spending the weekend experimenting with vector space modelling and poetic language. Vector space word embedding models use learning algorithms on very large corpora in order map a unique location in n-dimensional space to each token (=word) in the corpus. “N-dimensional space” is just a mathy-sounding way of saying that multiple (or n) features […]


The Best Words

The Life of Words is a bit late to this one, but: NEWSFLASH! Best Words, Best Word of Best Words, Located: Presented here without further comment, stupid. Enjoy Super Tuesday, y’all.


Babies say the darndest things

Everyone knows you have to start watching your language once Baby gets good at words. Even then there are moments: for a time my daughter’s impression of a snake ended with a “snap” that sounded just like… the French for “seal.” And then there’s the French for “seal,” favourite of every schoolboy, which HRW likes […]


Bowie on OED

It’s a day for sharing David Bowie quotations on the social medias. One in particular just crossed my path: I presume the person who wrote out, photographed, and posted this little tidbit (making sure to draw attention to their book store’s own social media outposts) found it among the collected Bowie quotations on some “famous […]