Category Archives: Writing

It’s Official…21 New Words Were Added to the Dictionary Using Crowd-Sourcing!

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21_magnetThe first edition of the Collins dictionary published in 1979, with Patrick Hanks as editor and Lawrence Urdang as editorial director, was a milestone in dictionary making as it was the first to use the full power of computer databases and typesetting in the preparation of a dictionary. This meant that, for instance, subject editors could control separate definitions of the same word and the results could be blended into the result, rather than one editor being responsible for a word.

By the third edition, they increasingly used the Bank of English established by Hanks at COBUILD to provide typical definitions rather than examples composed by the lexicographer.

The unabridged Collins English dictionary was published on the web on December 31, 2011 at www.collinsdictionary.com along with the unabridged dictionaries of French, German, Spanish and Italian. The site also includes example sentences showing word usage from the Collins Bank of English Corpus, word frequencies and trends from the Google Ngrams project, and word images from Flickr.

Last year, in August, www.collinsdictionary.comintroduced Facebook-linked crowd-sourcing for neologisms. In other words they asked us (meaning anyone who speaks English) to submit new words for inclusion in the dictionary!

For those of you who are passionate about the preservation and evolution of the English language, that’s not as bad as it sounds. They still maintained overall editorial control in order to be distinguishable from Wiktionary and Urban Dictionary. So just because a word is submitted doesn’t mean it automatically makes it into the dictionary. Editors evaluate and research submissions just as they would any other word under consideration.

Alex Brown, head of digital at Collins, said in a press release, “It is essential that we keep our ear close to the ground listening out for new words emerging from pop culture, science, and technology.” He added; “Most dictionaries are static.” By allowing the public to participate the folks at Collins Dictionary feel that we stay on top of the evolving English language.”

Here are those twenty-one additions:
1. Legbomb – when a person, usually a celebrity, shows off a lot of leg.
2. Cray – commonly used by rappers such as Jay-Z and Kanye West to mean crazy.
3. Yolo – a word used by R&B artist Drake to mean “you only live once.”
4. Tebowing – to drop to a knee as if you’re praying in the nature of NFL quarterback Tim Tebow.
5. Omnishambles – something which is completely and continuously in shambles.
6. Creeping – pursuing women in a nightclub.
7. Mantyhose – tights for men.
8. Tweeps – Twitter users.
9. Twitlit – poems, sayings, and aphorisms that debuted on Twitter and adhere to its 140-character limit.
10. Twitterverse
11. Carmageddon – a state of extreme traffic congestion.
12. Trendfear – the anxiety that you are not up to date on certain trends.
13. Gazanging – when a property seller pulls the plug at the last minute, eaving the buyer hanging.
14. Photobombing – appearing at the back of someone else’s photograph without their realizing it, so they are surprised when they see the photo.
15. Lollage – use of the phrase “lol” meaning “laugh out loud.”
16. Amazeballs – amazing.

Not all of the words are so… nontraditional. For example, Collins editors have also approved words such as :
17. occupy
18. insourcing
19. livestream
20. crowdsource
21. flashmob

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I Write Because I Must

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Taken In Amalfi, Italy

Writing Bears Witness by RPM

Writing bears witness…What writing brings to my life is clarity and tenderness…it gives me a place to pour out my emotions… to say, I really miss my dad or my mom or my dog….it keeps me sane.

One of the reasons that I must write is that, in a thousand little ways, writing keeps me from abandoning myself.  I often feel that my writing is like a cherished best friend who cherishes me and has only my best interests at heart.  I usually write when I have something that I need to figure out or sort through.

Writing can be naughty – an act of self-possession.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  Writing is about energy, about perfect imperfection, about humanity.

Yes, I write because I must!

I Am Missing You

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Photo by Aphrodite/Flikr

Photo by Aphrodite/Flikr

My “I” stands lonely

like an isolated tree in a swamp.

This landscape is denuded.

Okay, I am lying about that!

It is spring.

The lilacs are blooming.

Along with tulips, forsythia

and nisaburo ito.

Through cracks in the sidewalks of sterility,

Dandelions and daisies emerge –

A full company is here.

All of them stand like a church

Without its steeple.

Incomplete…

You are my people.

OUR LETTERS MUST BE READ

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letters_mailJuly, 2011

Now I get it!  It’s sad that when it comes to passion, hysteria (evoked by true passion) has gone out of style.   The world has become superficial.  There are no more “masters.”  Your work has an ability to grab folks where they live and “shake” them.  It’s edgy and it’s in-your-face.  Most people can’t deal.  It either brings out their worst traits (greed, avarice, envy…) or makes them feel as though someone/thing has been thrown into them, crawled through their psyche and swum through their soul…either way, your “derangement” is totally wasted –ends up bringing you grief, misery or abject “pissed-off-itude” until you find a way back to “sanity” by telling them to fuck-off and the project becomes a way to keep the creative genius alive…to verify he exists… to feed the spirit…and it gets better (I did see the difference between earlier and later episodes.)

What you also need (well, what I need)…what I’ve always needed…is to find a soul somewhere with whom to share something in common.  I’m beginning to fear that I’ll be forced to live out my life alone…in a dreamlike state, yearning for more than is really there.  I can’t allow myself to believe that’s true yet.

HOWEVER…

Sanity, while over-rated, I suppose, does have its own rewards.  With a little serenity (as I prefer to call it,) you can take on a new client or task and remain in control.  When that becomes burdensome, you can always lose your mind for a second or two.  I do it all of the time (that is one of my stabilizers!)  When you get back, rest assured, the ingrates are waiting because while you’ve been gone and they’ve had to do it on their own they’ve discovered, if they have a keen business sense, where their talents really lie.

Unfortunately, a keen business sense seems to go hand-in-hand with having a knack for discovering a weakness in others and preying on it for personal gain.

BUT…

you recognize that trait in them and are beyond their control.  So, they can’t get to you now (well, maybe a little, but only in the weaker moments) or cause you any lasting damage.  You just might find a way to turn the tables on them.  True talent MUST prevail.

And you have true talent, Harry.  –r Read the rest of this entry

ARE GOOD WRITERS BORN OR TAUGHT?

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 Traditional freelance writer work system.

Good writing is an art.  Some have the gift and others don’t!  Anyone can become proficient, however.

Those who believe a good writer merely crafts words, however, are off the mark.  A really good writer is one who helps the rest of us see the world differently through their words on paper.  Yes… through what they write we can actually come to see the world from rarified heights.    

That’s the part that can’t be taught.

Good writing requires making choices that require taking risks.  Choices like which thought comes first? Which mode of expression is most likely to succeed? Ultimately, which words, in what configuration, best offer the greatest clarity of expression?  These choices equate to style or “voice.”

A writing course can teach you that these things are necessary and to look at writing in terms of the ideas you want to express, but a writing course won’t show you how to arrange these thoughts and ideas or how to communicate them effectively.  Most people can be taught structure and grammar and how to use these skills. 

What that boils down to is useful mechanics that can be used well enough to communicate concisely, intelligently, effectively, and even gracefully.

Know, too, that there are differences in writing for different media. Vast differences, So, understand who you’re attempting to write for and don’t knock useful mechanics. It’s all that writers — even the best — start out with.

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REFUDIATE…REPUDIATE? SARAH PALIN…SHAKESPEARE?

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William Shakespeare, chief figure of the Engli...
Image via Wikipedia

Recently, Sarah Palin said that Muslims should ‘refudiate’ a planned mosque near the World Trade Center site. Hmmmm…the problem is that’s not a real word.  So, in her defense, Palin compared herself to William Shakespeare on Twitter when she tweeted: ‘Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Get over it!”  

Except she didn’t “coin” a new word, now did she?  She just doesn’t (maybe now she does) understand the difference between “refute” (the word she initially changed the mistake to) and “repudiate” (the word she was trying to use in the first place.)

English is a living language.  That’s what makes it great.  Shakespeare and other writers have coined new words in order to communicate nuances that the existing vocabulary could not.  That is not the case here since the word Palin was looking for already existed. 

Well, she knew what she meant and probably everyone who either heard her or read the sentence knew what she meant, so isn’t that the point?  Well, yes, we know what she meant, just like we used to know what Bush meant and the same way we know what a five-year-old who says “basghetti” means…But Palin has about as much in common with Shakespeare as one of the Jersey Shore morons has with Meryl Streep!

Of course, it’s important to note that the groups behind the project at which her attack was leveled – a building that will house a mosque, gym & community center, among other things—will not be “refudiating” their plans.

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WRITING HAS HEALTH BENEFITS

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Since a fairly young age I’ve found keeping a personal journalto be a great tool for helping me access and sort through my inward churnings.

Writing has always provided me with an anchor in my life, a means of self-criticism.  Writing in a journal provides a way to view yourself objectively and to express what you feel without fear of judgment.

While many people who journal on a regular basis do so because it makes them feel better, until recently there hasn’t been any scientific evidence to prove it.  Nancy Linnon, who lectures on writing and health at Canyon Ranch Resort and Spa in Tucson, Arizona, says; “I haven’t found one person who said journaling didn’t help them.”

Felice Willat, the founder of Day Runner, Inc., happened upon her idea in the late 1970s. She envisioned a product that would help individuals tap into their inner worlds. When Day Runner emerged, it reflected the tone and needs of that time-crunched era.  It served to organize the many roles, goals and activities that continue to fill our busy lives.  Individual approaches to these challenges vary from drawing circles and highlights on a refrigerator calendar to creating elaborate entries on desktop computers. While organization is beneficial, there is more to life than running errands, keeping lunch dates and brainstorming at the office.  Our inner lives are as big, if not bigger than, our outer lives.

Journaling helps integrate and organize our complicated lives in a variety of ways. It not only resolves traumas that stand in the way of important tasks; it helps in remembering significant events and turning points; it captures our creative stories, poems and ideas; it helps us discover and define our values and purpose; it helps us reap the wisdom of our dreams and discover what is sacred in our lives.

In her book, A Voice of Her Own, Marlene A. Schiwy talks about the healing dimensions of journal writing: “To create wholeness in our lives is to heal ourselves …It is the attainment of wholeness of body, mind, emotions and spirit…. It (the journal) offers one place where literally and symbolically, all of the pieces of one’s life can be brought together.”

Lucia Cappaccione, author of The Well Being Journal, recognizes that physical illness can teach great lessons from within…”The most important message I learned from my disease is that the healing process is activated by a spiritual force that resides within. A journal can be a ‘living textbook’ for learning the lessons that the illness has to teach.

Researchers like James W. Pennebaker, M.D., professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, and Joshua M. Smyth, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at North Dakota State University, are proving what journal keepers have always known —  journaling is good not only for the soul, but for the body as well.

Their first studies, documented in the late l980’s, examined healthy people and journaling. Researchers found that people who write about their deepest thoughts and feelings surrounding upsetting events have stronger immunity and visit their doctors half as often as those who write only about trivial events. A study conducted by Joshua M. Smyth at the State University of New York at Stoneybrook and presented in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that writing about a stressful experience reduces physical symptoms in patients with chronic illnesses. The research team monitored 112 patients with arthritis or asthma. The subjects were asked to write in a journal for 20 minutes three days in a row.  They were allowed to choose whether to write about an emotionally stressful incident or their plans for the day. 

Of the group who wrote about their anxiety, 50% showed a large improvement in their disease after four months. Only 25% of patients who wrote on neutral topics showed any relief of symptoms.  “More importantly,” says Pamela M. Peeke, MD, MPH, ISPA Medical Advisor, “22% of the people who only wrote about their daily plans worsened substantially over the four-month period, while only 4% of those who wrote about their stressful events did so.” She adds, “One of the least studied techniques so commonly taught in spas is journaling. Now, there is intriguing evidence that journaling has a direct impact upon the status of chronic disease.”

Journal writing has no risk factors …neither mental nor financial.  It has the potential to provide the gentlest and safest of therapies. No expertise is required to journalize, no minimum time required, and you don’t lose the benefits if you miss a time period.

 

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