A Merriam-Webster Dictionary Writer Explains How She Interprets and Describes the English Language

In a highly definitive episode of Vox Almanac, the very knowledgeable Kory Stamper, who works as a dictionary writer for Merriam-Webster, explains how new words are discovered, how they are interpreted, defined and how they affect and are affected by their context within the English language.

The history of dictionaries involves a lot more than just looking at words. Lexicographers have to pore through hundreds of years of documents to understand where English has been and is going. Defining English, both for vocabulary and grammar, is a daunting task that Stamper tackles every day. It opens into a wider grammatical debate as well, between prescriptivism and descriptivism, which pits two philosophies against each other.

Stamper is also the author of Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries, which was released today.