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He believed that increasing immigration, the multiplication of unique American words, the new meanings attaching to English words and the proliferation of slang — or, as the English saw it, vulgar and undisciplined language — made an American dictionary essential to American life. N ew words came from several sources.

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Native Americans contributed wampum , moccasin, canoe, moose, toboggan and maize ; from Mexico came hoosegow, stampede and cafeteria ; from French, prairie and dime ; meanwhile, cookie and landscape came from the Dutch. Existing words were combined to make new ones, for example rattlesnake, eggplant and bullfrog. There were also entirely new words: gimmick , fudge , notify , currency , hindsight , graveyard , roundabout.

Shakespearean and other Old World words returned: gotten got , platter plate , mad angry.


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Not surprisingly, the British worried that, one day, if this mushrooming of Americanisms continued, they would scarcely be able to understand Americans. Because of high mobility and the blending of different cultures and backgrounds in the US, there were far fewer dialects or dramatically different pronunciations than in England, where isolation was more common in spite of the smallness of the country.

Many Americans agreed, but many more wanted their own national dictionary to lend them a type of secular authority that was analogous to the spiritual authority of the Bible. What emerged in the country was an adversarial culture concerning language in which Americans fought each other in a civil war of words. It was also partly an ideological war, pitting various sectors of society — political, social, educational, religious — against each other over the direction that American English should take.

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Webster died before these wars were resolved, feeling that he had failed as a lexicographer and a visionary , and disheartened by poor sales of his dictionaries. The Merriams knew that Worcester was the superior lexicographer, but they recognised that Webster was more marketable because of his patriot credentials, so they dedicated themselves to cleaning up his dictionary and defeating Worcester in the marketplace.

Had Webster returned to see what had happened to his dictionary, he probably would have thought of himself as one of the big losers. Meanwhile, American English would pursue its own inevitable national development, with little help from him. Massimo Pigliucci.

War - Six-Word Memoirs

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By closing this banner or by continuing to use Eventbrite, you agree. For more information please review our cookie policy. Beginning February 20, , the workshop will meet weekly at pm and will be free and open to all, veteran and civilian alike. About : After a long hiatus, we are happy to announce the return of our MFA-style writing workshop. This workshop offers high-quality literary instruction to the NYC community, fostering a space for developing craft, critique, and connection. Our mission is to bring veterans and civilians together to examine war through literature, and we are committed to building a literary community that is inclusive and diverse.

Gallagher has a keen reportorial eye, a distinctive voice and an instinctive sympathy for the people he is writing about A former U.

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In , Gallagher was featured in Vanity Fair as one of the voices of a new generation of American war literature. Senate Floor.


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