1:02 to be · Filed through Ben Zimmer under Dictionaries, Humor, Language and the media, words words native


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In the recent episode the "Sam & Cat," a teen comedy top top Nickelodeon, the plot bring away a lexicographical turn. As Nickelodeon defines it,

Sam and also Cat do a bet through the annoying older brothers of a babysitting customer that "lumpatious" is a actual word. As soon as they discover it is not, they must figure out exactly how to acquire it in the dictionary.

You are watching: What does the word lumpatious mean

Here"s a clip:

And here is the complete episode:

The totality "get a indigenous in the dictionary" plot line is very reminiscent that the "Kangamangus" episode of Comedy Central"s "Sarah Silverman Program," i m sorry I questioned here when it aired back in 2008. Vice versa, the "Sarah Silverman" characters try to acquire a word past the gatekeepers at the Oxford English Dictionary, the "Sam & Cat" characters technique a easy fictionalized version, the Oxnard English thesaurus (allowing the show to make various jokes around Oxnard and its strawberries, aka "nardberries"). The dictionary"s austere "Word Keepers" say the they will officially identify "lumpatious" if a well known person supplies it, and the young protagonists control to gain the governor of new Jersey to oblige — in a spoof of Gov. Kris Christie that came to be perfectly timed for the Bridgegate scandal troubling the real-life Christie.

What ns wrote around the "Sarah Silverman" episode in a brand-new York times opinion piece about a year ago holds true here:

It’s interesting to think of dictionaries in an ext dramatic terms: together battlegrounds whereby the fate of the language is decided, or as shadowy enterprises with secret, back-room meetings end what does and also does no count as a word. These pictures flourish due to the fact that of prevalent misconceptions in the well-known imagination around how dictionaries gain made.

See more: What Is A Substitute For Ground Cloves, Substitute For Ground Clove

One of mine favorite recent portrayals of lexicography, once again including the O.E.D., was in a 2008 illustration of Comedy Central’s “The buy it Silverman Program.” top top the show, Ms. Silverman’s character tries to popularize a new slang native (“ozay”), but her girlfriend Brian end up finding more success through his own coinage (“dot-nose”). By the finish of the episode, dot-nose has end up being so renowned that an O.E.D. Editor payment Brian a visit come tell the it is entering the dictionary, inviting him come the official “Word Induction Ceremony.”

Sad to say, over there is no such point as a native Induction Ceremony, though dictionary publishers do try to milk part publicity the end of batches of new words included to their recent editions. Still, the step highlights the common belief that admission to a thesaurus (especially a call one choose the O.E.D.) awards “official” condition to a brand-new word. And also if the Almighty thesaurus is the anointer that wordhood, then surely those that make these decisions must be blessed with some kind of semi-divine authority!

Now the teens and tweens who make up the Nickelodeon set are gift exposed come the transmogrification of dictionary drudgery into Dan Brown-style melodrama.

And because it never ever gets old, here"s a wonderful depiction the lexicographical gatekeeping by Hans Stengel, indigenous the June 3, 1923 problem of the brand-new York times Sunday newspaper (click to embiggen):

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January 13, 2014
1:02 am · Filed by Ben Zimmer under Dictionaries, Humor, Language and the media, words words native