19 Cromulent Words You Can Still Adopt for a Good Cause


Wordnik is an online interactive dictionary with a mission to include every English word. There are so many! And new ones are being created constantly. If you regard the job of a dictionary to be “gatekeeper of what should and should not be an acceptable word to use,” this idea may not appeal to you. There are plenty of words that people find too slangy, too new, or just too plain unlikeable to seem worthy of a place in a dictionary. But what if the job of a dictionary is to simply describe the natural world, to collect words as they exist out there in the wild and pin them like butterflies in a case for posterity?

That’s what Wordnik wants to do, because “every word deserves a recorded place in our language's history. We want to collect, preserve, and share every word of English, and provide a place where people can find, learn, annotate, comment on, and argue about every word.” After all, “if you're curious about a word, why should you have to wait until someone else decides that a word is worth knowing?”

Wordnik wants to add a million words to its dictionary—which doesn’t seem like such a hard thing to do if you just scrape them off the internet—but they also want to provide definitions for the words, which is a much harder prospect. Lexicographers can spend years coming up with just the right definitions. Wordnik already gets around this problem by looking for ready-made definitions, found in places where the word is defined in a text as it is introduced, such as in this example for bibliobesity, from Terry Teachout in the New York Times:

"The problem of bloated books—bibliobesity, as it were—has always been with us."

Wordnik has just launched a Kickstarter to help automate the hunt for these definitions by training a new machine learning tool to find them on its own. For $25, you can adopt a word. While many words, such as petrichor, wombat, and butt have already found good homes, there are plenty of words left to adopt. Help build a record of English as it is by looking up your own favorite and seeing if it’s still available. As of this writing, here are 19—some old, some new, but all fabulous—you can still choose from.

1. ‘sup

2. absquatulate 

3. squiffy

4. clownsourcing 

5. computermabob 

6. boomshakalaka 

7. anyhoo 

8. procrastitweeting 

9. broetry

10. abecedarian 

11. tintinnabulation 

12. trilemma 

13. amazeballs 

14. dorkus malorkus 

15. pulchritude 

16. cellar door 

17. schadenfreude 

18. irregardless 

19. splendiferous 

For more, visit the main Wordnik Kickstarter page here.  



How Do You Stress the Word: THANKSgiving or ThanksGIVing?

Here’s something else to stress about for Thanksgiving: where to put the stress in the word Thanksgiving.

If you’re from California, Iowa, or Delaware, you probably say ThanksGIVing, with the primary stress on the second syllable. If you’re from Georgia, Tennessee, or the Texas Panhandle, you probably say THANKSgiving, with the primary stress on the first syllable.

This north-south divide on syllable stress is found for other words like umbrella, guitar, insurance, and pecan. However, those words are borrowed from other languages (Italian, Spanish, French). Sometimes, in the borrowing process, competing stress patterns settle into regional differences. Just as some borrowed words get first syllable stress in the South and second syllable stress in the North, French words like garage and ballet get first syllable stress in the UK and second syllable stress in the U.S.

Thanksgiving, however, is an English word through and through. And if it behaved like a normal English word, it would have stress on the first syllable. Consider other words with the same noun-gerund structure just like it: SEAfaring, BAbysitting, HANDwriting, BULLfighting, BIRDwatching, HOMEcoming, ALMSgiving. The stress is always up front, on the noun. Why, in Thanksgiving alone, would stress shift to the GIVE?

The shift to the ThanksGIVing pronunciation is a bit of a mystery. Linguist John McWhorter has suggested that the loss of the stress on thanks has to do with a change in our concept of the holiday, that we “don’t truly think about Thanksgiving as being about thankfulness anymore.” This kind of thing can happen when a word takes on a new, more abstract sense. When we use outgoing for mail that is literally going out, we are likely to stress the OUT. When we use it as a description of someone’s personality ("She's so outgoing!"), the stress might show up on the GO. Stress can shift with meaning.

But the stress shift might not be solely connected to the entrenchment of our turkey-eating rituals. The thanksGIVing stress pattern seems to have pre-dated the institution of the American holiday, according to an analysis of the meter of English poems by Mark Liberman at Language Log. ThanksGIVing has been around at least since the 17th century. However you say it, there is precedent to back you up. And room enough to focus on both the thanks and the giving.

Designer Reimagines the Spanish Alphabet With Only 19 Letters

According to designer José de la O, the Spanish alphabet is too crowded. Letters like B and V and S and Z are hard to tell apart when spoken out loud, which makes for a language that's "confusing, complicated, and unpractical," per his design agency's website. His solution is Nueva Qwerty. As Co.Design reports, the "speculative alphabet" combines redundant letters into single characters, leaving 19 letters total.

In place of the letters missing from the original 27-letter Spanish alphabet are five new symbols. The S slot, for example, is occupied by one letter that does the job of C, Z, and S. Q, K, and C have been merged into a single character, as have I and Y. The design of each glyph borrows elements from each of the letters it represents, making the new alphabet easy for Spanish-speakers to learn, its designer says.

Speculative Spanish alphabet.
José de la O

By streamlining the Spanish alphabet, de la O claims he's made it easier to read, write, and type. But the convenience factor may not be enough to win over some Spanish scholars: When the Royal Spanish Academy cut just two letters (CH and LL) from the Spanish alphabet in 2010, their decision was met with outrage.

José de la O has already envisioned how his alphabet might function in the real world, Photoshopping it onto storefronts and newspapers. He also showcased the letters in two new fonts. You can install New Times New Roman and Futurysma onto your computer after downloading it here.

[h/t Co.Design]


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