Who knew that lexicographers had so much fun? Certainly not I. If only someone had told me, I’d have made a sharp detour away from journalism, my chosen (and doomed) profession, and headed straight for the great big tomes in the Reference section, which I actually enjoyed reading a lot more than city council reports and budget-negotiation recaps. With luck, I’d have ended up in a job like Kory Stamper’s: associate editor at Merriam-Webster.
Happily, there is now consolation in the form of Kory’s smart and funny new blog, which she describes as “a journeyman lexicographer’s look at the language as it grows and changes.”
The blog is called Harmless Drudgery—the title comes from Samuel Johnson, whose 1755 dictionary defined a lexicographer as “a harmless drudge.” Here’s a bit of the first post, in which Stamper tells how she became a lexicographer:
You see, I love words. I love all of them, even the nasty bastardized ones—yes, I even have a love/hate thing for “irregardless.” Their histories, who they’ve been with, where they came from, where they are going. Reading is not just an escape or a hobby; it is a compulsion. I am that person you see on the subway who, upon finishing her newspaper or magazine, begins carefully reading all the ads and graffiti on the train and then moves on to the receipts in her pockets. If I run out of reading material, I start fidgeting like a coke fiend needing a line or ten. Do not come between me and my words.
Pre-Harmless Drudgery, Kory Stamper’s claim to fame(217,044 views!) was her two-minute video about the correct plural of “octopus.”
See more “Ask the Editor” videos on the Merriam-Webster YouTube channel. You may also follow Kory Stamper on Twitter.