Allan Metcalf & M-W in newspaper

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Sun Jan 7 02:12:31 UTC 2001

     Allan Metcalf was quoted in an article in today's _St. Louis
Post-Dispatch_, January 6, 2001, p.34, cols. 4-5: "New Collegiate
Dictionary Truly Reflects the Times," by Ivelisse DeJesus (of _The
Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J._). Presumably it appeared elsewhere too.
Here are a few excerpts:

     'According to Allan Metcalf, a member of the American Dialect
Society, a scholarly linguistic organization, the English language
sires relatively few new words a year.  At most, lexicons might see
200 new words a year, but it takes about 50 years to determine a
word's enduring power.
     "It's  very difficult to get new words into the dictionary.  It's
almost easier to win an Acadmey Award," Metcalf said.
     'Slow to change, the English language is composed of
approximately a half-million words that have for the most part been
used for some time, give or take the few hundred that surge into
vogue for a time, Metcalf said.
      "'Chad' in fact is a term that was widely used by teletype
operators," Metcalf said.  "It was sort of a specialized word used by
few people.  Now, it has widespread use."'


    Also, Merriam-Webster comes in for special attention in the
article, with a quote from company president and publisher, John

   "People are interested in these  [i.e. new] words [e.g.
fashionista] and want to look them up and learn more about them,"
said John Morse...
    'Since Nov. 7, Election Day, the most frequently looked-up word on
the dictionary's on-line edition ( has been "chad."
Trailing it was "per curiam" (a brief, usually unanimous court

---Gerald Cohen

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