This week’s New York Times Sunday Book Review includes an essay by Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist from the University of California (Berkeley), called “When a dictionary could outrage“. Nunberg compares the recent decision of the Oxford English Dictionary to adopt OMG (“Oh My God”) and LOL (“Laughing Out Loud”) among its entries with the adoption of newcomers like wise up and litterbug in Webster’s Third, forty years ago.
The new words in Webster’s Third produced a lot of outcry at the time, particularly the dictionary’s refusal to condemn ain’t or the use of like as a conjunction (see the very first entry in the Blog). Particularly vociferous, according to Nunberg, was Wilson Follett (1887-1963), author of a usage guide called Modern American Usage: A Guide.
(With thanks to Bob Ackerman, Clare Hall, Cambridge, UK.)