Saturday, November 04, 2006

Noah's Mark

The New Yorker has an article this week on Noah Webster's quest to create a dictionary of American English. A noteworthy aspect of the article is the description of the vitriol that Webster and other, similar champions of American English encountered in the teeth of snobbishness and conservatism. Small example:
"A disgusting collection" of idiotic words coined by "presumptuous ignorance," one critic wrote, referring to Americanisms like "wigwam," "rateability," "caucus," and "lengthy" (lengthy? what's next, "strenghty?"). "The Columbian Dictionary," as he saw it, was nothing more than "a record of our imbecility."
I wrote up some excerpts from the article on my other blog, and rather than repeat them here, I'll just link to that. But you can comment here if you want!

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