Friday, March 22, 2013

Words of war

In a great article for today's Guardian, the lexicographer and language blogger, Kory Stamper looks at the language of war, and in this case the language that has emerged in the ten years since the invasion of Iraq.

As a lexicographer at Merriam-Webster in the USA, she is well-placed to offer an overview of this, because as well as helping provide definitions for words, the Merriam-Webster has taken to tracking the words that are looked up at given moments or across longer periods of time. To put it simply (and with a degree of exaggeration), they have an insight into what the American public is thinking about - or checking that they know about - as they think it.

You can see spikes in certain words around key moments in the US presidential campaign if you track back through the tweets of @PeterSokolowski, or the prominence of certain words around other major news events, but it's the overview of the ten years that follow the Iraq invasion that Stamper concentrates on. So, we can see early appearances for the famous (and non-existent) WMDs. Then, later on, we find waterboarding and roadmap, alongside the supposed reason for the whole affair, democracy. The article is a great read and really useful for those of you looking at how and why language changes for ENGA3.


1 comment:

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