Bromantic lexicography

A little note on lexicography in the media. As each new edition of a well-known dictionary comes out, there’s a little media blitz; it’s always news that new words are welcomed to “the dictionary” (or that some are retired). So for Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, now covered in many places. Here’s the beginning of the Reuters story:

US Merriam-Webster dictionary adds “tweet,” “bromance”
By Molly O’Toole
Aug 25 (Reuters) – Crowdsourcing tweeters bonding in bromance and tracking cougars earned an official place in the English lexicon on Thursday when Merriam-Webster announced the addition of 150 words to its 2011 Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (link)

(this following on the bromantic cartoon I posted recently).

The article is clear that dictionaries record established usages, not admit them to to some sort of inner circle of wordhood — “Gosh, bromance is a word now; it’s in the dictionary!” — but, still, the attraction of these stories lies in the perceived authority of dictionaries to govern usage. No doubt there are people out there bewailing the degradation of the English vocabulary by the inclusion of bromance, tweet, and the other newcomers in the new Webster’s Collegiate.


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