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Merriam-Webster Editor at Large on "The Dictionary as Data: What the Online Dictionary Tells Us About English"

Stanford’s Structured Liberal Education (SLE) program welcomes Peter Sokolowski, the Editor at Large at Merriam-Webster, to discuss "The Dictionary as Data: What the Online Dictionary Tells Us About English.”

What makes a person look up a word? When do you use a dictionary? Looking up a word in the dictionary is an intimate act for each of us as individuals, but the words sought by millions of users put together tell us a surprising story about the English language. By watching trends of lookups on a heavily consulted online dictionary, lexicographers track which entries are being consulted at any given moment. Some words are perennial sources of curiosity, while others show spikes of interest triggered by news from the worlds of politics, entertainment, and sports. Some words express the general mood of the culture; others reflect a poignant specificity. At the same time, this Web traffic tells a story about the changing business of dictionaries -- and what is expected of a dictionary in the 21st century.

Peter Sokolowski, the Editor at Large at Merriam-Webster, will be at Stanford to discuss the online dictionary. Words sought by millions of users put together tell us a surprising story about the English language. By watching trends of lookups on an online dictionary, lexicographers track which entries are being consulted at any given moment. This Web traffic tells the story of the changing business of dictionaries and what is expected of a dictionary in the 21st century.

About the speaker:
Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large at Merriam-Webster, has defined and edited entries for many of the company's dictionaries, including the French-English Dictionary, Collegiate Dictionary, and the Advanced Learner's English Dictionary. Active as a lecturer in the world of ESL and TESOL, he also serves as pronouncer for spelling bees around the world, appears in the Ask the Editor videos at M-W.com, and was named among TIME's 140 best Twitter Feeds of 2013. His Twitter handle is @PeterSokolowski.

About SLE:
Sometimes called ‘the liberal arts college experience’ within the University, Structured Liberal Education (SLE) is a residence-based academic program that encourages students to live a life of ideas in an atmosphere that emphasizes critical thinking and interpretation.

Details

When:

Thursday, October 23, 2014. 06:00 PM

Where:

Levinthal Hall, Stanford Humanities Center

Sponsor:

Structured Liberal Education