Top 10 dictionaries

Guardian article Top 10My contribution to the media’s obsession with “Top 10” lists can be found here.

Democratizing the OED

Based on Girl in the Garden, by Mary Cassatt (1880-82). ART X SMART Project by Kim Dong-kyu, 2013.
Based on Girl in the Garden, by Mary Cassatt (1880-82). ART X SMART Project by Kim Dong-kyu, 2013.

I’m currently in the US, just a few days after the presidential election. As recent political events in both the US and the UK have shown, democratic processes can arouse strong feelings, and by definition not everyone will approve of the results.

One of the themes running through The Word Detective is the democratization of the OED (the “z” is Oxford’s preferred style, as well as the US spelling) and I’ve written an article about this for The Daily Beast.

Dot Wordsworth on “niche”

Frans Snyders, Grapes, Peaches and Quinces in a Niche
Frans Snyders, Grapes, Peaches and Quinces in a Niche (wikimedia commons)

Dot Wordsworth talks about “niche” – “an English word that turned into a French one” – in the Mind Your Language column in The Spectator, here. The article is based on my discussion of the word in The Word Detective, and I’m helpfully described as “not our man in the burka, but the former chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary“.

 

Houses and mice, or mouses and hice

I’ve spent quite a while recently writing short, historical descriptions of the houses covered by the Pittville History Works project. Each of the 200 or so houses needs a little snatch of mouseover text talking about its history, or the lives of some of the people who lived there. So here’s an example:

Wellington Square - map

 

 

They aren’t comprehensive summaries, but give a quick impression of what life was like in this part of Cheltenham in the mid 19th century. We had a problem with some of those blue circles today – they wouldn’t appear. After a while Jeffery and I worked out that the search software was picking up old data, and wouldn’t display any of the new material I had been adding. It’s annoying when it happens, but it’s great when it’s fixed.

Sunday Times articleThe Pittville History Works group only started two years ago, but we went national yesterday when we were featured in a Sunday Times article on researching the history of your house.  I dashed to the website stats, to find that the number of visitors to the site had increased by about 20%. Not too much, but perhaps it’s a long way from the newspaper to your tablet, or maybe people don’t get to the Home section till around Wednesday.