Reference News Roundup

Reference News Roundup (Vol. 3)

Greetings Papercutters! It’s Friday, and you know what that means … Beer and heavy metal! Well, maybe … if that’s what you’re into. Whatever you drink and  listen to, Friday is Reference News Roundup Day, so here is you weekly dose of wordy news to keep your brain busy … while you try to kill it with alcohol and loud music!


Anyhoo…. I know I let this slip last week, but I was redoing my kitchen, so cut me some slack (it was a lot of work!). Hopefully, I’ve made up for my substandard performance with this week’s installment, which contains a bunch of great stuff, including my “News Item of the Week.”

So with no further adieu, here is this week’s installment of The Papercut’s Reference News Roundup.

Thanks for reading and, if you dig this kind of thing, follow the blog, follow me on Twitter @Joe3atARL, and tell share this with your friends. Also, should you feel inclined, drop me a line if you want to comment on or chat about anything here.


News Item of the Week:

Why Are They ‘Stars’?

“It makes so much sense to refer to certain kinds of celebrities as ‘stars.’ At their heights, those people inspire the rest of us. They shine, larger than life, above us, and around us…. But: Why are they ‘stars,’ specifically? Why is Hollywood’s Walk of Fame populated by pentagrams of pale pink, rather than some other arbitrary shape?”

Holy F–K, if this doesn’t sound like something I write for this blog, then I don’t know what does. Maybe I’ve been cloned without my knowledge….

I. News

Merriam-Webster Tweet Corrects Conway’s Definition of Feminism

“Everyone in political life can expect to encounter criticism, perhaps especially on Twitter.

“But when you wind up getting repeatedly publicly corrected by one of America’s most respected dictionaries, that’s a bit out of the ordinary.

“Kellyanne Conway, a top adviser to President Donald Trump, knows how that feels … [Yeah because she keeps using words incorrectly – Ed.]”

Next to the country training eagles to take drones out of the air, the stories about Merriam-Webster’s continued “trolling” of the TrumpNuts brings me immense joy. Here’s a recap of just a handful of them. Note how much play this is getting from media sources around the globe.

How Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is trolling the Trump administration

Trump’s most erudite troll is the Merriam-Webster dictionary

Team Trump’s greatest enemy on Twitter? A dictionary

Dictionary Merriam-Webster has totally schooled Kellyanne Conway on the definition of feminism

II. New Dictionary Entries

Oxford Dictionary Proves It’s Totally With It By Adding ‘Squad Goals,’ ‘Yas’ and ‘Drunk Text’

Oxford Dictionaries adds ‘yas,’ ‘squad goals,’ ‘cat lady’

#SquadGoals Is Now In The Dictionary

Clicktivism and fitspiration among 300 new words in online Oxford dictionary

III. Of (Possible) Interest:

Study: Bot-on-Bot Editing Wars Raging on Wikipedia’s pages

“Beneath the surface of Wikipedia lies a murky world of enduring conflict. A new study from computer scientists has found that the online encyclopedia is a battleground where silent wars have raged for years…. The more the bots (aka: software robots) came into contact with one another, the more they became locked in combat, undoing each other’s edits and changing the links they had added to other pages.

Another reason why electronic references are suspect ….

New Financial Terms Dictionary Offers Article Style Description [WARNING: This is a press release!]

My Word: Sheila

Hawaiian Word of the Day: Ki’pu’upu’u

The Finnish word “kalsarikannit” gives new life to your routine weekend plans

Reference News Roundup

Reference News Roundup

newspaper-peepsGreetings Papercutters! It’s Friday, so that means it’s time for this week’s Reference News Roundup.

I know, this is the first one, so you didn’t know that Fridays and round-ups of reference news were linked. Well, they are, or at least they will be on most Fridays around here. So if this is your kind of thing, read on and, of course, tell your friends.

Note: This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of reference and reference-related news from the past week. Rather, the items contained herein are those that struck my fancy and/or say something important about our world and the role reference books play within it.

Thanks for tuning in and, if you feel like discussing any of the contents below, then leave a comment!



I. Current Events

The OED is thinking about adding a batch of Trumpisms

The Oxford English Dictionary is considering fast-tracking a host of new Trump-related words into its hallowed pages.

Dictionaries Are Tracking Trumpian Word Usage To Update The English Language Accordingly

How much power does an American president have? Enough, apparently, to issue executive orders considered unsound by ethicists. And enough to alter the language we use, as evidenced by dictionary updates centered on heads of state past and present.

Dictionary Searches for “Betrayal” Spike After Spicer’s Comments on Sally Yates Firing (!)

After the White House press secretary refused to define the word, Merriam-Webster responded with a lengthy definition.

Many looked to the dictionary for help on Tuesday to define “betrayal,” a word that played a large part in White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s news conference about the firing of acting Attorney General Sally Yates.

Merriam-Webster gets a little bit cheeky

If dictionaries are supposed to be dry, and to the point, Merriam-Webster has officially broken the mold.

Merriam-Webster’s Twitter account has delighted the masses in the last few years by jumping into hot-topic issues with a dosage of the truth — or the definition at least.

We covered this in our first post. Check it out. (More articles on that page.)

II. Enclyclopedia News

Oslo Bookshop’s Fundraising Encyclopedia Draws Starry International Contributions

A “subjective encyclopedia”, described by its creators as a “freak of publishing nature” designed to save a struggling Norwegian bookshop from closure, has proved a hit after a host of well-known names including Jarvis Cocker, George Saunders and Jonathan Lethem contributed entries.

The Inner Workings of Wikipedia

Fifteen years ago, the idea of a free, digital encyclopedia, compiled and edited almost entirely by volunteers, and available at no cost to everyone, seemed like an idealistic fantasy. Today, Wikipedia offers millions of articles in hundreds of languages, and continues to grow every day. And it is easier than you might think to contribute to that growth.

They were once a pinnacle of science, and now they’re almost gone: Are encyclopedias obsolete?

Today, encyclopedias are almost forgotten for all but a small number of nostalgics. Bookshops are rarely selling them anymore, old bookshops aren’t valuing them anymore, and even charities have a hard time giving them away.

Into the history books: Encyclopedias virtually ‘worthless’
They were once a huge investment for the family home and a vital part of any school library, but encyclopedias have now passed into history and can barely be given away.

All I’m going to say about these encyclopedia are worthless articles is that I used one for yesterday’s post.

III. New Additions, Words of the Year, and the Like

How ‘heaty’ and ‘cooling’ made it to the Oxford English Dictionary

Cultural concepts, such as words used to describe the nature of foods in traditional Chinese medicine, are now part of the English language.

Dumpster Fire, Brexit, Fake News

Started in 1990 by a small group of linguists, Word of the Year has spread like a video of an anarchist punching a Nazi that’s been set to music.

HSP enters dictionary

The rise in popularity of the Halal Snack Pack (HSP) has seen the fast-food item voted Macquarie Dictionary’s people’s choice word of the year for 2016.

IV. Slang and Newly Coined

Merriam-Webster and the ACLU finally settle the ‘woah’ vs ‘whoa’ debate

Merriam-Webster and the ACLU have teamed up to solve a long-running spelling debate: is it spelled “whoa” or “woah”?

The Dublin dictionary: 19 slang terms you need to have in your life

If you’re struggling to understand co-worker from Tallaght, or you just want to brush up on your Dublinese, here are some of our favourite phrases in translation.

V. History

Calamity, a name and a disaster

Several versions are given on the origins of calamity. Many dictionaries say of this word “a disaster”. If we go back far enough, we find that the word comes from the Latin calamitas. My Macquarie says it refers to great trouble, adversity, misery or a great misfortune or a disaster.

Historian Gerald Smith Shares Favorite Tales From The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia

University of Kentucky’s history professor and Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar in Residence Gerald L. Smith with colleagues, professor emeritus at Kentucky State University Karen Cotton McDaniel and professor of history at Western Kentucky University John A. Hardin published a 550-page tome of historical treasures, The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia, in 2015.

Survival and preparedness dictionary

If you are new to the preparedness or survival mindset you may come across a lot of terminology and acronyms that you aren’t familiar with yet. Don’t be discouraged. The purpose of this article is to list some of those survival and preparedness terms and define them for you.