By Jonny Lupsha, News Editor
“. NPR reported. The linguistic experts of Merriam webster have defended its place in their lexicon because of its popular use. Panels of linguists decide which words go into the dictionaries.
“Irregardless” is unintentional coat rack – or combination of two partial words. Each word comes out independently when it is alone. In the case of “independently” and “independently”, when combined, the two words become “independently” which is commonly used by the public. Despite its prefix and suffix being added to a double negative, the speaker still generally uses the original word as a substitute for one or other of his original words. Its popularity has earned it a place in the Merriam webster dictionary.
“The definition of the word, upon reading, would appear to be: without regard,” the NPR article said. “Merriam webster defines irregardless as “nonstandard” but means the same as “independently”. Independently was first included in Merriam websterunabridged edition of 1934.
Debates about “real” words are common, but when it comes to making dictionaries, who has the final say? Ultimately, more people than most of us would imagine.
Make a book out of it
People who help compile dictionaries are called lexicographers. According to Merriam webster, a lexicographer is “an author or editor of a dictionary”. So how do they decide on the definition of a new word?
“Lexicographers track the language; they follow it by reading, and now they also follow it using new databases available online, ”said Dr Anne Curzan, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of English at the University of Michigan. “They are watching to see how a new word is moving in the lexicon. Sometimes new words start in more specialized registers – which can be scientific registers or something like slang – and then move on to broader usage.
Dr Curzan said lexicographers often wait to see how popular a word becomes in public use – monitoring it in print form – before selecting it for possible inclusion. One example she gave was the term “yada yada,” which originated from Lenny Bruce in the 1960s but was popularized on the TV sitcom. Seinfeld in the 1990s. It was included in the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006.
A panel of experts
When it comes to pronunciation, definition, and usage of certain words, dictionaries consult a handpicked group of language experts they call the usage panel. For example, in dictionaries, words that people use in different ways are sometimes accompanied by a note that says something like “68% of the user panel found this definition acceptable”.
So what is it? Dr Curzan said the use panel for The Dictionary of American Heritage is a pool of around 200 renowned critics, authors and academics; she has been one of them since 2006.
“What that means is that every year or so I get a quiz and it includes questions about, say, pronunciation,” she said. “He will ask you questions about new meanings; for example, “Is it acceptable to use quote mean estimate? ‘ The editors send us this whole questionnaire; they then compile their responses, and that’s how they come up with that “68% of the user panel thinks it’s okay or not. “
Compiling dictionaries takes a lot more work than most of us might imagine. Lexicographers, and the expert groups they consult, strive to shed light on public perception of language and their own perspectives in the ever-changing world of verbal language.independently whose feathers they ruffle.
Dr Anne Curzan contributed to this article. Dr Curzan is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of English at the University of Michigan. She received a BA in Linguistics from Yale University and an MA and PhD in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan.