Discounted apps for eduction; Premier's Spelling Bee; and defintions of 'misogyny'
Dear <<First Name>>,
Welcome to our new-look newsletter. Summer is on its way and you know what that means - Word of the Year is coming! Keep an eye out for announcements on our website, but first, here's an update on all things wordy. And as always, if you have any comments or suggestions on what you'd like to see in our newsletters, we'd love to hear from you. Happy Halloween!


50% Discount on apps for Education


Our apps for iOS are now available to educational institutions at a 50% discount, when purchasing through The Apple Volume Purchase Program. Click here for more information on the Volume Purchase Program, including how to enrol and FAQs, or check out our range of apps. Our iOS apps are compatible with both iPhones and iPads, and do not require an internet connection to use.


 

NSW Premier's Spelling Bee


The 2012 Premier's Spelling Bee are having their finals on Wednesday 7th of November. This year, the entire final will be streamed live online (via a link to be provided) by the ABC, and the last half hour (5:30-6:00pm) will be broadcast live on radio on Richard Glover’s Drive program on 702 ABC Sydney (@702Sydney).
 
Macquarie Dictionary is a proud sponsor and the Official Wordlist Supplier and would like to congratulate all the finalists.


 

Word Matters - 'misogyny'

The argument that recently raged about the definition of the word 'misogyny' began with a phone call from a journalist working on the Australian Financial Review. Having observed that various people were offering definitions for the word she thought it was logical to ask the Editor of the Macquarie Dictionary what she thought. As Editor I explained that the debate had brought the word to our attention, and that after looking at the evidence for the use of the word over the last thirty years or so we thought that there was a case to be made for two definitions, one relating to hatred of women and the other to prejudice against women. We were drafting such a second definition for inclusion in the next edition of the dictionary. This definition would be included in the annual upload of new material to the dictionary online and then go into the Sixth Edition which was due to be published at the end of next year. All of this material is being revised and proofed at the moment.
 
After that the story was mangled and spun in various ways that were nicely described by Crikey's blog Fully Sic (here and here). The first confusion arose from the idea that we were dumping the definition 'hatred of women' in favour of this new definition about prejudice against women. This was not true. Both definitions will be in the dictionary. The word 'misogyny' entered the English language in the 1600s with the meaning of 'hatred of women' and pottered along with low frequency until the 1890s when it was taken up as part of the jargon of the new study of psychology and given a pair in the shape of 'misandry', the hatred of men. It was through the 1900s, particularly in the discourse of groups on either side of the sexism debate, that both words acquired the sense that dealt with prejudice. 'Misandry' remains a word with much, much lower frequency than 'misogyny'.
 
The second confusion was that we had deliberately inserted ourselves into the debate in an effort to get publicity for the dictionary or, even more surprisingly, to leap to the aid of Julia Gillard. I rather like the idea of myself as a 'lexicographe grise' but alas, it is not to be. Dictionaries do not shape the way in which words are used. They collect the evidence for the ways in which the language community has chosen to use words. We follow, we don't lead, and we definitely don't attempt to influence.
 
The third confusion was that it was the Julia Gillard speech that had decided us to put the second definition in the dictionary. That speech made us notice the way in which 'misogyny' was used because it turned up many times allied with 'sexism' as a rhetorical battering ram. But if that had been the only example of such use then it would not have been enough. As it was, it was not difficult to find evidence for the path of the word through the previous century. Indeed by the end of the debate we had the Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), John Simpson, teasing us for being so slow to put it in - he had adjusted the definition in the OED in 2002.
 
As the strident voices diminished the voices of reason became audible again. It was agreeable to return to discussions of language change where no one had an axe to grind and the interest was purely lexicographical rather than political.
 
Susan Butler
The Editor

For further reading, please see:
 
A Letter from the Editor
A Response from the Editor
Other words with extended meanings



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