World Wide Words;Site-seers

10th September 1999 at 01:00
www.quinion.comwords. The Internet as a medium and as a sort of turbo-charger on the engine of linguistic change has revolutionised the business of lexicography.

If you don't believe me, visit this site and witness a professional at work, catching and dissecting the neologisms as they bounce their way round the networks.

Some of the words cited by author Michael Quinion - an OED contributor who describes himself as "the only lexicographic programming interpreter in captivity" - are so strange, you wonder if he didn't just make them up.

I might have thought that about "snollygoster" (a "shrewd, unprincipled person") - if it were not for the detailed evidence of its origins supplied. As with "atrocitainment" - but this turns out to be a (Julie) Burchillism.

But sometimes the quest for topicality seems to go too far: does anyone really need an explana-tion of the phrase "eclipse tourism"?

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