July 2011

Conversation with Sam Tanenhaus about computing literary jargon for the weekly New York Times Book Review podcast. (July 29, 2011)

On this week’s podcast, Helen Schulman discusses “This Beautiful Life.” Also on the program, the linguist Ben Zimmer explains how computers reveal the jargon of fiction.

(Artsbeat post, audio)

New York Times Artsbeat blog, “Exposing Literary Style, One Word at a Time” (July 29, 2011)

In this week’s Mechanic Muse column for the Book Review, I look at how vast new databases and techniques can help scholars of the digital humanities zero in on the nitty-gritty of literary style, right down to the level of individual words. An exciting development over the past few years is that many of the tools that scholars use to plumb the depths of literary usage are now publicly available online. These resources aren’t locked up in an ivory tower, accessible only to an elite band of researchers. Call it the democratization of digital scholarship.

Read the rest here.

Interview on WCBS Newsradio about how forensic linguists look for an author’s “fingerprints” on e-mail. (July 29, 2011)

(Show page, related New York Times article, related Word Routes column)

Interview on WCBS Newsradio about British irritation with Americanisms. (July 22, 2011)

(Show page)

Interview on “The Conversation with Ross Reynolds” (KUOW Seattle) about the use and misuse of words. (July 21, 2011)

Language experts say “literally” is our most misused word. Literally. But if everyone is doing it, does that make it right? We take your phone calls with language expert Ben Zimmer.

Show page, RealAudio, mp3, download

Christopher Muther, “Literally the Most Misused Word” (Boston Globe, July 19, 2011)

Garner now puts “literally’’ at stage three, which is defined as “being used by a majority of the language community.’’ However, Ben Zimmer, executive producer of the Visual Thesaurus and Vocabulary.com, believes “literally’’ has already slipped dangerously close to stage four, which means that it has become ubiquitous and only a few diehards reject the new meaning.

Zimmer has a simple solution: Rephrase your sentence.

Read the rest here.

Interview on WCBS Newsradio about the popularity of Harry Potter-isms. (July 15, 2011)

(Show page, related Word Routes column)

A Guide To Potter-isms: Wizardspeak In Translation” (NPR Morning Edition, July 15, 2011)

Ben Zimmer runs the web site Visual Thesaurus, which maps words and their relationships to each other. On Friday’s Morning Edition, he talks with host Mary Louise Kelly about the special vocabulary that’s arisen from Harry Potter books and films — the last of which, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2, opens this weekend. He compiled this quick guide to Potterisms.

(Show page, audio, transcript, related Word Routes column)

Interview on WCBS Newsradio about the use of “pop-up” dictionary definitions for news broadcasts. (July 8, 2011)

(Show page, related Word Routes column)

Interview on NPR’s Morning Edition about the murky origins of the term “hot dog.” (July 4, 2011)

On Monday, New York’s Coney Island will host Nathan’s Famous annual hot dog eating contest. The contest is in its 96th year.
But, the origin of the popular summer food is still cloudy.
Ben Zimmer, executive producer of the online magazine Visual Thesaurus, says there are a lot of myths about the name ‘hot dog.’

(Show page, audio, transcript, related Word Routes column)