National Post, Montreal Gazette - At the dictionary society of North America, words matter — a lot


When members of the Dictionary Society of North America get together, passions are stirred by everything from “Samuel Johnson’s lexicographical domesticity” to “The emergence of the hip-hop lexis.” But when words are your business, the work is never ending, even outside the conference room.

During the morning break Thursday, delegates were pleased to find fruit on offer alongside the coffee. “People were so happy with the oranges,” conference organizer Lise Winer, a McGill University education professor, was told. “They’re not oranges; they’re Marocs,” was her response. But is Maroc not a trade name?

“It is, but it has become generic for clementines.” There followed a discussion of whether the proper pronunciation was clemen-tine or clemen-teen (both were judged acceptable) and an exploration of whether clementine and mandarin are synonymous...