Jennifer Balderama

by Frank Paynter on June 29, 2009

[Wordnik is] “A crowdsourced toolkit for tracking and recording the evolution of language as it occurs, its goal is to gather as much information about a word as possible — not its mere definition, but also in-sentence examples, semantic ‘neighborhoods’ of related words, images, statistics about usage, and more. And it’s all compiled via user submissions.”
- Maria Popova

This afternoon Beth told me about Wordnik, a cool tool she learned about from Language Log-a crowd sourced compendium of all the words. Right. All the words. This evening, on an entirely different errand, I ran into a reference to Wordnik by Language Hat. Slipping into my spandex super-geek outfit, I hurried off to Language Log to see what Beth had found. (I could have asked her, but don’t like shouting from one room to another, mostly-I think-because my hearing is starting to go, casualty of my misspent youth).

What Beth had found was a link to the Language Hat post by one “Zwicky Arnold,” a contributor to language log who sounds suspiciously like Arnold Zwicky. One assumes the surname reversal has something to do with the collating sequence of contributors in the Language Log sidebar. Accustomed to a place at the end of the line, Zwicky presumably had to change his name from Arnold Zwicky to Zwicky Arnold because contributors there are ordered alphabetically by first name (and Arnold would move straight to the top of the list). All inferences regarding Zwicky’s motivation aside, it turns out that in his Wordnik post at Language Log he had linked directly to the Language Hat post.

At some point during this veritable fiesta of clickage, I actually went off to the Wordnik site and created an account, and at this point I was indeed on my way down the rabbit hole. There in the sidebar of my Wordnik account page was an advertisement for “The Subversive Copy Editor,” interesting in itself but made more-so by the included citation of Jennifer Balderama’s New York Times Paper Cuts blog.

Jennifer Balderama is one of those people whose name appears in the blog rolls of old blogging friends and acquaintances, someone I have never met, never “friended,” never “followed.” Why then do I feel that I know her a little just because she blogs?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

ahfukit June 30, 2009 at 10:39

What do loose ends mean?

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Frank Paynter June 30, 2009 at 11:05

Is this a riddle? I give up. What DO loose ends mean?

Is this a clue?

“But one must be careful of false friends when translating verbs between closely related languages. It is true that ge- is a past participle prefix (as it was in Old English), and that lost is the main part of the verb form. But luckily, in Dutch gelost does not mean “lost”. The sign was saying “All baggage is unloaded.” The los- bit should be thought of here as suggesting the root of the English verb and adjective loose (as in “set something loose”) rather than the verb lose (though as Björn Lindström pointed out in a comment after seeing the first version of this, the two are in fact distantly related to each other).”

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