Today there’ll be a celebratory parade of language-related facts that you’ve learned from the Allusionist and I’ve learned from making the Allusionist, so some old facts, some new facts - well, the new facts aren’t recently invented facts, they are established facts, just making their Allusionist debut.Read More
KORY STAMPER: Sometimes you want to make the dictionary sexy but it's just not a sexy thing. That's OK.
HZ: It's got rude words in it.
KORY STAMPER: It does have rude words in it. But they're defined really unsexily. There's no oomph to any of the rude words. Alas.
HZ: But it is deliberate that there is no oomph.
KORY STAMPER: Absolutely. The dictionary shouldn't have narrative interest, and you really want - especially with profanity - you really want those definitions to be very clear. But you don't want them to detract from the other definitions around them. Nothing should really stand out in the dictionary as being more interesting or having more narrative interests than any other entry. So they're very deliberately boring. We do deliberately boring very well.
HZ: Why does it have to be boring?
KORY STAMPER: That's a good question.
RH: People like words that sound silly. Compound words that have a lot of elements to them, like ‘catawampus’ - people are always going to love ‘catawampus’, and I think it’s just how it sounds, those Lewis Carroll-esque words that are just fun to say. We recently did ‘waffle stompers’, it’s just one of those words that has that je ne sais quoi, so silly you know you’re going to get a rise out of people. In a good way. Waffle stompers are hiking boots. Why would you ever say ‘hiking boots’ again?
JS: We had a lot of cat words.
RH: I don’t know if it was a lot, but we’re not afraid to pander occasionally.
JS: The internet loves cats…