Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Fakes Words in Your Dictionary

Originally in the New Yorker (the following stolen from boingboing):

This piece from last August's New Yorker documents the fascinating hunt for the fake word inserted into the New Oxford American Dictionary. These fake words are inserted by dictionary editors as a kind of watermark to catch competitors who copy their dictionaries wholesale. The process of figuring out which of the words in the NOAD was the fake was quite involved, with six candidates sent around to a panel of distinguished language-scholars who had a vigorous debate about whether each word was a fake

I believe that phone companies used to do something like this with their phone indexes. They would insert fake names and business (complete with phone numbers and addresses) to catch unsuspecting plagirists who would just copy the book wholesale.

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