The Nitpicker’s Nook: January’s linguistic links roundup

The Nitpicker’s Nook is a monthly collection of language-related articles, interviews, and blog posts from around the web. If you read something that would make a good addition, email your suggestion to [email protected].

By Savanna Scott Leslie

The Nitpicker’s Nook: January’s linguistic links roundup

  • For many of us, this January will stand out as the month when the world lost David Bowie and Alan Rickman to cancer. John Kelly takes a look back at the etymology of cancer and shares some inspiring thoughts. (Mashed Radish)
  • On the lighter side of the news, the latest Star Wars instalment is everywhere. Of course, Force takes a capital in the title The Force Awakens, but what about outside of titles? Can we treat the fictional energy as a sort of religion, or is it more akin to a Platonic form? Mignon Fogarty has answers. (Grammar Girl)
  • Like R2-D2 and C-3PO, Star Wars links are better in pairs. Linguist Gretchen McCulloch sparked an interesting conversation after she saw The Force Awakens. Is BB-8’s Droidspeak just a series of random sounds or does it hold up as a fictional language like Elvish or Klingon? (Storify)
  • What’s in a name? Editors Canada’s own Iva Cheung wrote earlier this month about whether editors with “foreign-sounding” names face discrimination as job applicants. (Iva Cheung)
  • Choosing the right word helps writers express themselves clearly, but sometimes there’s even more at stake. Consider descriptions of serious crimes like sexual assault, where imprecise words or euphemisms can undermine the crimes’ severity. Zosia Bielski explains. (The Globe and Mail)
  • Often science informs fiction, but sometimes the roles reverse! Terry Pratchett fans have petitioned the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry to name a newly discovered element octarine after the colour of magic in Pratchett’s Discworld. Melissa Ragsdale explains why the suggestion might not be so strange. (Electric Lit)
  • As you might expect, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large, Peter Sokolowski, is a wealth of lexicographical information. He chats with Carol Fisher Saller, of The Subversive Copy Editor fame, about technology to track word usage and the state of language today. (CMOS Shop Talk)

Savanna Scott Leslie is an editor and publishing consultant. She recently relocated from Toronto to Hamilton and is enamoured of all things #HamOnt. Her Twitter handle is @Savanna_SL.

This article was copy edited by Alanna Brousseau.


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