e-reader versus e-book - non-substitutability

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jun 19 00:43:47 UTC 2013

The Christian Science Monitor has an article about new words being
added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

An error in the title of the article apparently illustrates the
dangers of synonym substitution when re-writing titles. (See below)

Title: Oxford English Dictionary adds the words 'tweet,' 'e-book'
Sub-title: The OED bent the rules slightly by adding 'tweet' in under
10 years – a nod to the word's rapid and widespread rise into everyday
Author and date: By Molly Driscoll, Staff Writer / June 17, 2013


[Begin excerpt]

The Oxford English Dictionary is one of the most respected
dictionaries in the world. It is no empty boast when the book's
publisher calls it the "definitive record of the English language."

So what has made the cut for the edition of the online version of the
dictionary (which is updated four times a year)? According to Oxford
University, the words "tweet" and "e-reader," among others, are now
official parts of our lexicon.

Other words that made the cut this time around include
"crowdsourcing," the verb form of "stream" (as in "streaming a video
on your laptop"), and the expression "to have a cow," which the Oxford
English Dictionary chief editor John Simpson notes in his post "is
often associated with the character Bart from the animated series 'The
Simpsons,' but it is much older than the television show." The OED
says the phrase originated in 1959.

[End excerpt]

The body of the story states that the word "e-reader" was added to the
dictionary. Yet, the title says "e-book" was added. The online OED
indicates that the entry for the noun "e-book" was established for the
"OED Third Edition, September 2001".

One hypothesis to explain this discrepancy: an editor thought
replacing the word "e-reader" with "e-book" in the headline would
improve readability or clickability. But the token "e-reader" was
actually non-substitutable in this context.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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