We’re having “a national conversation about language.”
A national conversation about language? I don’t recall that ever happening before. If you ask me, it couldn’t come at a better time.
When the M-W Dictionary went online in 1996, Sokolowsky explained, it was the first time the dictionary’s curators could see what people were curious about. They’d never before been able to collect data about which words people were looking up.
In the past couple of years we’ve become hyper-aware of fake news, alternative facts, and the ways people use words to twist reality — or accuse others of twisting reality.
The watchers at M-W are doing their part: keeping close tabs on what people are looking up. When United Airlines sought volunteers to give up their seats and then had a passenger dragged off a plane, thousands of people went to the dictionary to look up the meaning of volunteer. Merriam-Webster’s Twitter account took note.
Increasingly, M-W’s tweets themselves have drawn attention. Continue reading