BOOKS: MOSH! BORK!

WORDSMITHING IN POST-CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH

The English language is alive and ill. The very quality that enriches the vocabulary--its undiscriminating tolerance for the new--obliges dictionary editors to acknowledge such a gallimaufry of new words and phrases that even the most casual browser wants to cry havoc.

Still, dictionaries must face factoids. So, with due sensitivity, the handsome new Random House Compact Unabridged Dictionary (2,230 pages; $50), a revised edition of the 1967 family-size version, quarantines about 1,000 examples of jargon, fad words and lamentable journalese and corrals them into a separate "Addenda Section."

The Addenda provides a useful glimpse into the netherworld of post-contemporary wordsmithery. Control...

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