Harvard history of English course hosts its own March Madness

Thursday, March 21, 2019 - 12:00 in Paleontology & Archaeology

Imagine the sounds of March Madness — fans screaming, basketballs bouncing, sneakers squeaking, the endless swoosh of nets — replaced with the vowels and consonants of words you’ve never heard of, and you’ll have a sense of what Word Madness is all about. At Harvard, a history of English course is hosting its own March Madness–style tournament, substituting powerhouse basketball institutions with newly coined words that are making a splash in the English lexicon. As part of Professor Daniel Donoghue’s general education course “The History and Structure of the English Language,” students submitted more than 100 words new to English usage, which were then organized into a championship-style bracket modeled on the NCAA basketball tournament. The bracket includes 64 words — such as “bae” (short for baby), “clapback” (a retort), “salty” (irritated), and “turnt” (overly excited) — that students are now voting on until a champion emerges in early April. “It’s really fun...

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