The associate editor and lexicographer at Merriam-Webster, and acclaimed author of the book Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries, Kory Stamper, paid me a visit to talk about being a celebrity word nerd, how she manages her time between the dictionary and her own writing, and the pending “pencil apocalypse.”
In addition to writing and editing for the oldest dictionary in the U.S., Kory gained notoriety when she appeared in Merriam-Webster’s popular “Ask the Editor” video series, short video blogs that tackle topics of “lexical contempt” like irregardless.
Her non-fiction debut is titled Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries, and it “… cracks open the complex, obsessive world of lexicography, from the agonizing decisions about what to define and how to do it, to the knotty questions of usage in an ever-changing language.”
Publishers Weekly called it a “… witty, sly, occasionally profane behind-the-scenes tour aimed at deposing the notion of real and proper English.” The New Yorker called it “illuminating,” and “An unlikely page-turner.”
Kory also blogs about language and “defining the words that define us” on her own website, and her writing has appeared in The Guardian and The New York Times, and on Slate.com.
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In Part One of this file Kory Stamper and I discuss:
- How a want ad in a print newspaper led to her writing career
- The viral video blog that catapulted her into the spotlight
- Why your high school English teacher lied to you
- How Kory’s book will make you feel better about your frustrations with usage
- Why writing a book is also a full-time job
Listen to The Writer Files below ...
The Show Notes
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- How Merriam-Webster Lexicographer and Author Kory Stamper Writes: Part Two
- Kory’s blog – KoryStamper.wordpress.com
- Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries – Kory Stamper
- Merriam-Webster’s “Ask the Editor” video series on YouTube
- Kory Stamper on npr’s Fresh Air
- The Case Against the Grammar Scolds – The Atlantic
- Kory Stamper on Twitter
- Kelton Reid on Twitter