full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Ilan Stavans: Who decides what's in the dictionary?

Unscramble the Blue Letters

Today, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary begins to address a coctoriniadtn in Webster’s goal: he wanted to rreenpset an entire nation, but he besad his work on just one person’s opinion: his own. Since Webster’s death, each new eitiodn of the dictionary has been curated by a group of language experts rather than by a slgnie authority. The current criteria for including a word in the dictionary are that it has “widespread, sustained, and mgfenuainl use.” This clearly includes profanities, which were sometimes excluded from dictionaries in the past. Racial slurs also meet the criteria for inclusion, but some argue that including them might legitimize them.

Open Cloze

Today, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary begins to address a _____________ in Webster’s goal: he wanted to _________ an entire nation, but he _____ his work on just one person’s opinion: his own. Since Webster’s death, each new _______ of the dictionary has been curated by a group of language experts rather than by a ______ authority. The current criteria for including a word in the dictionary are that it has “widespread, sustained, and __________ use.” This clearly includes profanities, which were sometimes excluded from dictionaries in the past. Racial slurs also meet the criteria for inclusion, but some argue that including them might legitimize them.

Solution

  1. single
  2. edition
  3. based
  4. represent
  5. contradiction
  6. meaningful

Original Text

Today, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary begins to address a contradiction in Webster’s goal: he wanted to represent an entire nation, but he based his work on just one person’s opinion: his own. Since Webster’s death, each new edition of the dictionary has been curated by a group of language experts rather than by a single authority. The current criteria for including a word in the dictionary are that it has “widespread, sustained, and meaningful use.” This clearly includes profanities, which were sometimes excluded from dictionaries in the past. Racial slurs also meet the criteria for inclusion, but some argue that including them might legitimize them.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
noah webster 2
united states 2
english language 2
slang words 2

Important Words

  1. address
  2. argue
  3. authority
  4. based
  5. begins
  6. contradiction
  7. criteria
  8. curated
  9. current
  10. death
  11. dictionaries
  12. dictionary
  13. edition
  14. entire
  15. excluded
  16. experts
  17. group
  18. includes
  19. including
  20. inclusion
  21. language
  22. legitimize
  23. meaningful
  24. meet
  25. nation
  26. profanities
  27. racial
  28. represent
  29. single
  30. slurs
  31. sustained
  32. today
  33. wanted
  34. word
  35. work