December 01, 2009

War & Words

The National Museum of Language in College Park, MD is curating an exhibit on the role of the War of 1812 in the development of American English. (Thanks to the Visual Thesaurus for the tip)

The role of the museum is to promote a better understanding of language and its role in history, contemporary affairs, and the future. Orin Hargraves’ post highlights some interesting history on the plight of Noah Webster to further separate his language from that of established Samuel Johnson.

From the Language Lounge on Visual Thesaurus:
Perhaps the greatest lexical victor of the war was the much older word spangled, which got promoted to a plush job that it will keep forever. Francis Scott Key, unavoidably detained on a ship in Chesapeake Bay on a September night in 1814 and compelled to watch the bombardment of Fort McHenry by Royal Navy ships, was moved to write the words that eventually became the national anthem. The epithet “star-spangled,” interestingly, goes back to the 16th century but never seems to have been applied to anything but the sky until Key’s moment of inspiration for the Star-Spangled Banner.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *