February 20, 2006

Popular lexicography on the internet: when neologisms aren't new

From a newsletter sent out today by the folks at eGullet:

eG Radio is here. We recently launched our series of eG Radio foodcasts (we thought we invented the word, but then we Googled it and 135 other people already had). You can download the first one any time and listen at your leisure. It so happens our guest from that foodcast is here this week for the eG Spotlight conversation, so . . . Listen. Chew. Discuss. [emphasis added]

I recognize that it's bad manners to quote yourself, unless it's part of an attempt to clarify a misunderstanding. On the other hand, it's also bad manners to cut-and-paste without citation, even from yourself, and gratuitous paraphrase is a waste of time -- so forgive me for quoting from a Language Log post of 12/6/2004:

Robert Merton once wrote that "Anticipatory plagiarism occurs when someone steals your original idea and publishes it a hundred years before you were born". One of the less widely recognized consequences of internet search is a significant increase in the rate of (a shorter-term variety of) anticipatory plagiarism.

More seriously, the note on foodcast is a clear example (among many) of parallel independent coinage of a new word. People often assume that a new word must have some single specific source, but I suspect that this is not always true, and may even be the exception rather than the rule.

Posted by Mark Liberman at February 20, 2006 11:50 AM