[Ads-l] annals of acronymic etymythology

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Aug 2 13:07:26 EDT 2018

> On Aug 2, 2018, at 12:44 PM, David Wilton <dave at WILTON.NET> wrote:
> Unscientific data point:
> When I discuss dictionaries with my students (mostly first or second-year
> university students), I always ask what dictionary they use. The answer,
> almost universal, is "Google." Most are unaware that online dictionaries
> exist.
> At most, there are only one or two say "Merriam-Webster" or "the OED" (by
> which they mean oxforddictionaries.com).

I found it helped to assign many problem sets requiring them to use the online OED (accessible to them here) and/or AHD.  There were other more flexible assignments (collecting entries for their NEWJ—New English Word Journal) for which other sources were permitted.  And some exercises—etymology vs. etymythology detective work—required them to check unsubstantiated sources as well.  Google was very helpful there.  


> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
> Jesse Sheidlower
> Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2018 10:16 AM
> Subject: Re: [ADS-L] annals of acronymic etymythology
> As Larry and Ben say elsethread, the use of dictionaries has not declined
> for this purpose. However, I don't think this matters anyway: people
> generally dismiss what dictionaries say when they look up entries like this.
> If the etymology is given as "unknown" or something less interesting than
> the purported acronymic origin (which is pretty much a given), people will
> assume that the dictionary is either wrong or ignorant. This is similar to
> usage issues: whatever authority the person decides to accept, whether their
> grade-school teacher or some guy on the Internet, is given more weight than
> the dictionary.
> Jesse Sheidlower
> On Thu, Aug 02, 2018 at 02:42:31PM +0000, Shapiro, Fred wrote:
>> Here's an interesting question:  Etymythology has been a very strong
> phenomenon for centuries.  Even etymological scholars have long been
> attracted to colorful, unfounded etymological theories.  But now, in a
> society where right-wing media and even the President of the United States
> are mounting an enormous assault on concepts of education, science,
> accuracy, truth, etc., is etymythology growing in popularity?  I am not
> asserting that it is growing in popularity, but it seems logical that it
> would in the aforementioned environment.  Another factor that might
> contribute to such growth is the decline in use of dictionaries.
>> Fred Shapiro
>> ________________________________
>> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of 
>> Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
>> Sent: Thursday, August 2, 2018 9:47 AM
>> Subject: annals of acronymic etymythology
>> For The Atlantic, I take a look at the latest bogus etymology meme to 
>> sweep the Internet, asserting that "tag" (the game) stands for "touch and
> go."
>> https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.t
>> heatlantic.com%2Fentertainment%2Farchive%2F2018%2F08%2Fthat-meme-youre
>> -sharing-is-probably-bogus%2F566582%2F&data=02%7C01%7Cfred.shapiro
>> %40yale.edu%7Cb0c8396dc2e94aa6d38508d5f87e7570%7Cdd8cbebb21394df8b4114
>> e3e87abeb5c%7C0%7C0%7C636688144378969865&sdata=4k1VlDG9Gm00gLRNApC
>> w607Zsr16YXnWRIrn7lAgk6c%3D&reserved=0
>> I'm hoping that if I keep repeating Larry Horn's term "etymythology" 
>> it'll get some traction. Douglas Harper of the Online Etymology 
>> Dictionary chips in with his own blend, "acronymphomania."
>> https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.e
>> tymonline.com%2Fcolumns%2Fpost%2Facronymphomania&data=02%7C01%7Cfr
>> ed.shapiro%40yale.edu%7Cb0c8396dc2e94aa6d38508d5f87e7570%7Cdd8cbebb213
>> 94df8b4114e3e87abeb5c%7C0%7C0%7C636688144378969865&sdata=usY8Ss9Mx
>> i0W0uAblgKackAxDeYjbU25re5pSYR22OM%3D&reserved=0
>> --bgz
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - 
>> https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.am
>> ericandialect.org&data=02%7C01%7Cfred.shapiro%40yale.edu%7Cb0c8396
>> dc2e94aa6d38508d5f87e7570%7Cdd8cbebb21394df8b4114e3e87abeb5c%7C0%7C0%7
>> C636688144378979874&sdata=thRrhq8Rc5MBWs%2BAj%2F3URr1HkFsL6gSo6OtK
>> BnPJI7c%3D&reserved=0
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ---
> This email has been checked for viruses by Avast antivirus software.
> https://www.avast.com/antivirus
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list