I ran across a few posts today about words, each of which was intriguing in its own way:
1. Screenwriter John August(Big Fish, Charlie’s Angels, Go, to name a few) observed the growing use of “dialog” over “dialogue”. The former spelling originated as a technology term — specifically in context of a “dialog box” or “dialog window” on a computer screen (which loosely analogs a “dialogue”) — sometime in the early 1980s. August notes the similarity of catalog/catalogue. I suggested via Twitter that he start using “duologue.” He (probably rightly) has not replied to me.
2. Eugene Volokh, chief conspirator at The Volokh Conspiracy, suggests words mean different things in different contexts. Like, for example, when Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a “slut” he meant it in a different way than when the Sexual Health Education & Advocacy throughout Harvard College (SHEATH) group used the same word (in a different context). Volokh follows his post with further explanation about the importance of contextual meaning.
3. Totally unrelated, I also came across a three-year-old article about Tolkien’s courting by Bletchley Park. The article’s comment about Tolkien turning down the job to focus on his literary career seemed a bit off to me. According to this old Mythopoeic Society email conversation, I should trust my nose. (Okay, this isn’t about words, but it’s about Tolkien who notably loved words.)