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If you've ever played Scrabble, you know whothe ultimate arbiter in that word game is: Youchallenge a word your opponent makes by reachingfor that infallible judge, the dictionary. After all, a05dictionary is a definitive collection of words,spellings, and meanings, right?Actually, that isn't quite so, because while weregard dictionaries as catalogs of correctness, thetruth is that dictionaries do not tell the whole story.10We can think of them as horses pulling tidy carts ofour cluttered language, but in fact, as David Skinnerwrote in the New York Times (May 17, 2013), "infollowing Webster's you're following the followers."That's because language is an ever-changing15thing in which new words are invented all thetime and old words are put to new use. Keeping upwith this is an impossible task, as the writers of theOxford English Dictionary, or OED, found out over150 years ago.20In 1879, members of the Philological Societyof London began working with James Murrayof Oxford University Press to produce a morecomplete dictionary than what was available atthe time. In ten years, they estimated, they would25publish a four-volume, 6,400-page dictionarycovering all English language vocabulary from theEarly Middle English period (c. AD 1150) onward.However, five years along they were only as far asthe word "ant"! The task of tracking new words and30new meanings of existing words while examiningthe previous seven centuries of the language'sdevelopment proved monumental.It turned out that their work required tenvolumes, included over 400,000 words, and was not35fully published until 1924. Even then, the editors'first job after completion of the monstrous OEDwas to print an addendum, which came out a merenine years later.As Skinner says, "There is always much more to40know about a word than what a dictionary can tellyou."According to Global Language Monitor, a newword is created every 98 minutes; this results inan average of about 14 words per day. They come45from regular people; from writers; from special-ized, often scientific fields; and from theInternet.A short list of the words spawned by the Internetand its technologies includes "blog," "avatar," "spam,"50and "webisode." Every year, Merriam-Webster's,publisher of America's premier dictionary, adds ajumble of words that have been coined by Web usersand promulgated across the Internet's multitudinouschannels: websites, chat rooms, forums, blogs, and,55of course, social media platforms.Just like other professional and social realms,the Internet produces both new words and newdefinitions of old words. The word "troll," forexample, dates back to 1616 as a name for "a60dwarf or giant in Scandinavian folklore inhabitingcaves or hills." In the last decade, however, "troll"emerged as a term for someone who participatesin Internet discussions, not to contributemeaningfully, but for the sole purpose of making65harsh rebuttals and insults.Dictionary makers are faced with toughdecisions. Any dictionary that doesn't includeInternet-produced words would be seen asbeing behind the times, although many feel that70dictionaries go too far in their role as recorders ofwhat gets said rather than rule-makers of correctusage. One of the most controversial new entrieshappened in 2013, when several major dictionariesadded a definition for "literally" that literally means75the literal opposite of its meaning! To some itseemed to erode the very purpose of a dictionary,but consensus prevailed, and Merriam-Webster'snow lists "in effect; virtually" as one meaning ofliterally. In response to criticism it received,80Merriam-Webster's wrote, "the use is purehyperbole intended to gain emphasis." Seeminglyas a concession to those who call the definitionincorrect, it added, "but it often appears in contextswhere no additional emphasis is necessary."85For those who grumble about the imperfectionthat this entry enjoins, perhaps the best attitudeto have is that expressed on the Oxford EnglishDictionary's Web site: "An exhilarating aspect of aliving language is that it continually changes."
1. The stance the author takes in the passage is best described as that of
2. According to the first two paragraphs, what claim does the author seek to refute?
3. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
4. As used in line 32, "monumental" most nearly means
5. What idea does the author convey in lines 44-46 through the use of the succession of phrases "from regular people; from writers; from specialized, often scientific fields"?
6. What conclusion can best be drawn from lines 50-55 ("Every year, … social media platforms")?
7. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
8. What conclusion can be drawn from the data in the graphic?
9. As used in line 76, "erode" most nearly means
10. Based on the passage, which choice best describes the relationship between language and dictionaries?
11. The data in the graphic most clearly support which conclusion from the passage?
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