An ‘Accidental Dictionary’ Explores How Errors Created The English Language. “Pink” used to be yellow. A “bimbo” used to be a brutish man. How did we get here?—Claire Fallon, Huffpost; an interview about The Accidental Dictionary by Paul Anthony Jones
But while the dictionary offers neat columns of words, followed by clear and definitive meanings, it is a haphazard document at its heart. Language itself is a constantly shifting, changing thing, so any guidebook to it also reflects those shifts and changes ― and over time, the book itself must be edited and reedited to reflect an evolving linguistic reality.
“Under scrutiny,” writes Jones in the introduction, “the dictionary reveals an unpredictable network of etymological crossed paths, U-turns, and forks in the road.” The Accidental Dictionary takes the form of a dictionary ― a 100-word dictionary ― and adds that scrutiny, revealing the many lives each word has lived.
“Clumsy” once meant “numb with cold.” “Hallucinate” once meant “deceive,” and “prestigious” once meant “deceitful.” “Queen” once meant “wife.” (Viewed from a relatively enlightened, feminist era, that one is rather disappointing.) Somehow, these words were shunted sidewise, rejiggered or tweaked; though they’re still familiar to us today, their meanings have entirely changed.
The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris is a new release that is also a response to the loss of words about the natural world in the 2007 Oxford Junior dictionary.
All over the country, there are words disappearing from children’s lives. These are the words of the natural world – Dandelion, Otter, Bramble and Acorn, all gone. The rich landscape of wild imagination and wild play is rapidly fading from our children’s minds.The Lost Words stands against the disappearance of wild childhood. It is a joyful celebration of nature words and the natural world they invoke. With acrostic spell-poems by award-winning writer Robert Macfarlane and hand-painted illustration by Jackie Morris, this enchanting book captures the irreplaceable magic of language and nature for all ages.
Via A new book teaches kids of the internet age all the “lost words” from nature and outdoor play—Thu-Huong Ha, Quartz
In 2007, Oxford released a new edition of its “Junior” dictionary, aimed at kids aged seven and older. A handful of parents and pedants were critical of which words had been dropped from and added to the edition. Words about nature—”moss,” “blackberry,” and “bluebell”—were gone, and in their place, “blog,” “chatroom,” and “database.” (“Saint,” “chapel,” and “psalm” had also been removed.) The dictionary made more cuts in 2012: “Cauliflower” and “clover” were supplanted by “broadband” and “cut and paste.”
In 2015, authors Margaret Atwood, Helen Macdonald, and Macfarlane, among other novelists and nature writers, expressed their dismay in an open letter to Oxford University Press. “Childhood is undergoing profound change; some of this is negative; and the rapid decline in children’s connections to nature is a major problem,” they wrote.
‘Star Trek: Discovery’: How A Klingon Expert Was Essential To Creating The Most Authentic Portrayal Yet. Executive producer Alex Kurtzman, star Kenneth Mitchell, and “the best Klingon speaker in Canada” reveal the level of detail that went into every moment the warrior race was on screen.—Liz Shannon Miller, IndieWire
“It would’ve felt very inauthentic, and I think people would’ve been upset by the idea that we were having the Klingons speaking in English,” Kurtzman said.
So, that meant the Klingons were going to speak Klingon, in lengthy scenes which aimed to develop these characters and this culture beyond typical bad guy tropes. “We know that Klingon is a language that has evolved for over 50 years. People are married in Klingon. They speak Klingon to each other. Which means we can’t get it wrong,” he said.
“We all looked at each other and embraced arms and said, ‘Fine. We’re going to do this. We’re going to write long scenes in Klingon, and we’re going to ask the audience to read the subtitles …”
Mitchell is fairly convinced that many of the people with whom he’s worked have no idea what he looks like underneath his Klingon make-up, including the directors. He and his fellow Klingons were often the first cast members to arrive each day for the three-and-a-half hour prosthetics process. “I realized that ‘I gotta stop this. I gotta meet the directors before I get into my prosthetics, because this is just too weird,’” he said. “And I still am meeting crew members or certain cast members who have never seen me before, outside of my makeup. It’s kind of funny.”
Meanwhile, his “Discovery” compatriots were having a very different experience on set. “One time I went over to visit the Federation side, and there they were: All the cast are in their chairs. It’s bright, they’re laughing, they’re on their cell phones, they’re telling stories,” he said. “And it’s not like that in the Klingon world. We’re all just trying to stay sane. We can’t even use our phones because we have prosthetic hands. It’s a totally different atmosphere.”