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Comment If you have mod points, give them to the parent. (Score 1) 146

The OED is a descriptivist dictionary, as opposed to a prescriptivist dictionary. That means that the OED includes words that are actually being used, rather than prescribing which words should and should not be used. This means including words that many people object to, but too bad, there are a large number of people who use the word regardless of any official position about the word.

If you want to speak a language which has a prescriptivist authority, then I recommend French or Spanish, they have institutes that declare what is and is not proper language, and if you disagree, then you're wrong. If you want a language that is generally descriptivist, then stick with the Germanic languages, where we recognize that the authority on language is a native speaker, and not some people locked up in a room declaring that "ain't isn't a word" even though 70% of the population uses it on a regular basis.

If I had mod points I'd give 'em to your post. Sitting next door to the OED lexicographers I couldn't have put it better myself.

Comment Re:There are no "official" words (Score 2) 146

It's nice to know that we're not "Any schmuck" :)

However my lexicographer colleagues would take issue with their decision to include a word granting it any sort of "official" status. They are scientists though they often don't see themselves as such, all their inclusion means is that they have found sufficient evidence of the word's use for them to consider it to be part of their record of contemporary English.

Whether a word is part of a user's "official" vocabulary is purely up to that user, not to anyone else and certainly not to us.

Comment A response from the coal face (Score 5, Informative) 146

Since the OED lexicographers are over an office divider from where I am sitting I guess I'm in a good position to answer this.

The most important point to make about modern dictionaries is that they are descriptive not prescriptive. That is to say that they describe the language as it evolves rather than tell you how you should use it. Lexicographers are like scientists though they do not generally consider themselves as such, everything they include in their dictionaries has made it there through painstaking linguistic research.

Please believe me when I tell you that my lexicographer colleagues have no interest in being 'hip'. Trust me on this one, I see them walk past my desk every day. Instead they are passionately interested in language and when a word has amassed enough evidence of usage in modern English they include it in their modern English dictionaries. Evidence of sufficiently common usage to be considered to have entered the language is their only value judgement.

It is also worth spelling out the differences between the different Oxford dictionaries. The OED is a massive multi-volume historical dictionary based on human research. You would use it to find the etymologies of words over a milennium. The Oxford Dictionary of English and the Concise Oxford English Dictionary however are corpus based dictionaries, they are derived from computational analysis of a billion-plus word corpus of contemporary English. That kind of stuff should be right up the average Slashdotter's street. Thus words like 'woot' and 'leet' (The lexicographers are funny about numbers in words, don't blame me) will not have been selected for trendiness but because the corpus analysis tells us people are using them.

The multi-volume book sells rather well as it happens. Not to many individuals but there are a lot of schools, universities and libraries in the world. And yes, we do have two dictionary websites. But as to a desperate attempt to stay profitable, the OED itself is not likely ever to do that. It took decades to produce its first edition, decades more for the second. We are a publishing company that is also a not-for-profit department of a major university so the OED is a project created for its academic value rather than its monetary return.

Comment Re:No leetspeak (Score 1) 167

Oxford dictionaries are descriptive rather than prescriptive, which is to say they describe how the language is evolving rather than telling people how to use it. They are based on a lot of solid research on a multi-billion-word corpus of contemporary English as well as a huge printed gorpus of the last thousand years plus of written English. Thus if Igpay Atinlay (or any other "odd" word) started to show up significantly in the corpus of contemporary English then yes, it would merit its own entry.

You wouldn't want your tech fossilised in Shakespeare's day, so why would you want your language to have that happen to it?

Comment lemmatisation (Score 4, Informative) 167

I'm an OUP employee, I work on and I sit just over a partition from the OED team so I guess I'm well placed to comment on this one. For a start, it already is in our dictionaries. . Unfortunately though they have lemmatised it (rendered it into its simplest form) as the rather lame-sounding 'leet' rather than '1337'. Hey, give them a break, they're English graduates! This probably has a root in their research. Analysing the corpus to find out how much the word is used, they are probably ignoring numbers because their job is to look for words. This infographic showing our inclusion process might be illuminating:

Councils Recruit Unpaid Volunteers To Spy On Their Neighbors 521

Several readers have written to tell us that a recent move in the UK has councils relying on info from "Citizen Snoopers" to report the transgressions of their neighbors. Currently only implemented as "environment volunteers" designed to keep watch on things like litter, dog habits, and improper trash sorting, there is a certain amount of trepidation that this could grow into something more sinister. "It will fuel fears that Britain is lurching towards a Big Brother society, following the revelation this week that the Home Office is extending some police powers to council staff and private security guards. Critics said the latest scheme could easily be abused and encourage a culture of bin spies and curtain twitchers. Matthew Elliott, of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: 'Snooping on your neighbors to report recycling infringements sounds like something straight out of the East German Stasi's copybook.'"

Web Fraud 2.0 — Point-and-Click Cracking Tools 92

An anonymous reader writes "The Washington Post's Security Fix blog is running a fascinating series that peers inside some of the Web-based services cyber crooks are using to ply their trade: from masking their identity, to defeating CAPTCHAs, to creating counterfeit documents and validating stolen credit and debit cards. Everyone familiar with this space hears about these kinds of tools and services all the time in the abstract, but the Post blog includes screen shots and background details on the popularity of the services and how each one is helping to bring cyber crime that much closer to the realm of even the most newbie scam artists." Many of these tools require a working knowledge of Russian. Wouldn't surprise me to learn that Chinese-language tools exist too.
First Person Shooters (Games)

The Duke Is Finally Back, For Real 309

After the first announcement on 1997-04-27 and over eleven years of fresh start after fresh start, Duke Nukem Forever finally comes to your system. At least if your system is an Xbox 360. Jon Siegler, the webmaster of 3D Realms, confirms this on their site: "As has been reported around the net today, we can confirm that the game has indeed passed final certification with Microsoft on Friday the 15th of August (on our first try, no less). That means the game is done — it is now in the hands of Microsoft." Update: 08/19 10:47 GMT by T : Several readers have written with a correction: this announcement is actually about Duke Nukem 3D, rather than Duke Nukem Forever.

How To Encourage a Young Teen To Learn Programming? 1095

Anonymous Hacker writes "I'm in a bit of a bind. My young teenage son is starting to get curious about computers, and in particular, programming. Now, I'm a long time kernel hacker (Linux, BSD and UNIX). I have no trouble handling some of the more obscure things in the kernel. But teaching is not something that I'm good at, by any means. Heck, I can't even write useful documentation for non-techies. So my question is: what's the best way to encourage his curiosity and enable him to learn? Now, I know there are folks out there with far better experience in this area than myself. I'd really appreciate any wisdom you can offer. I'd also be especially interested in what younger people think, in particular those who are currently in college or high school. I've shown my son some of the basics of the shell, the filesystem, and even how to do a 'Hello World' program in C. Yet, I have to wonder if this is the really the right approach. This was great when I was first learning things. And it still is for kernel hacking, and other things. But I'm concerned whether this will bore him, now that there's so much more available and much of this world is oriented towards point-n-click. What's the best way to for a young teen to get started in exploring this wonderful world of computers and learning how to program? In a *NIX environment, preferably." Whether or not you have suggestions for generating interest or teaching methods, there was probably something that first piqued your curiosity. It seems like a lot of people get into programming by just wondering how something works or what they can make it do. So, what caught your eye?

Apple Laptop Upgrades Costing 200% More Than Dells 935

An anonymous reader writes "C|net is highlighting the astonishing cost of Apple laptop hardware upgrades, compared to Dell — in some instances, Apple is charging 200% more for upgraded components, such as memory and hard disks. Either there's a serious difference in the quality of components being used, or Apple is quite literally ripping off those who aren't able to upgrade hardware themselves."

Music Industry Tells Advertisers to Boycott "Pirate" Baidu 206

An anonymous reader points to a story at PC Authority, which begins: "Music industry representatives have warned advertisers to stop supporting Baidu, China's largest search engine, because they believe it is encouraging music piracy. Baidu is the largest source of pirated music in China, according to the representatives, who describe the company as 'incorrigible.' The Chinese firm's music search engine is accessed through what is described as a prominent link on the company's home page."

Motley Crue Single Does Better On Rock Band 127

Erik J writes "Remember about six weeks ago when Motley Crue and Rock Band partnered to release a new single premiering first in the game before anywhere else? Come to find out their song 'Saints of Los Angeles' was downloaded over 47,000 times on the Xbox version alone, beating out digital services iTunes and Amazon, which were tapped only 10,000 times for the single."
PC Games (Games)

London Lawyers Demand £600 For One Game 404

Barence writes "A PC Pro reader has received a demand for a £600 out-of-court settlement from lawyers claiming to have forensic evidence that he illegally downloaded a PC game on BitTorrent. The law firm, Davenport Lyons, is acting on the behalf of German games distributor Zuxxez, creator of the game in question, Two Worlds. The PC Pro reader was given no prior warning to stop file sharing, unlike the usual 'three strikes and you're out' approach adopted by the music industry. The reader says, 'To add insult to injury it [Davenport Lyons] didn't pay enough postage on the letter and I had to collect it from the sorting office at a cost of £1.30. This also used up most of the two weeks that it allowed for a response.'"

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