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Monday, October 24, 2005
After yesterday's revelation about Lye Street comes the information that such cartographical tricks are known as Trap Streets, deliberate copyright snares. Many thanks to blanketfort for pointing these out, as well their close relation to the Nihilartikel ('nothing article'), a deliberate falsehood inserted into an academic text. We prefer the New Yorker's word for the term, 'Mountweazel', 'based on a false entry for Lillian Virginia Mountweazel in the 1975 edition of the New Columbia Encyclopedia.' The newest edition of the New Oxford American Dictionary inserted the word 'esquivalience' as a heffalump trap for the unwary. Some good items raised in the comments appended to this Languagehat post on the subject. See also the me-fi post.

'Esquivalience' gets well over 500 Google hits, not bad for something that doesn't exist. Who's to say it won't enter everyday language soon? We always liked the tale of how the word 'Quiz' came to mean what it does: 'The story goes that a Dublin theatre proprietor by the name of Richard Daly made a bet that he could, within forty-eight hours, make a nonsense word known throughout the city, and that the public would give a meaning to it'. Of course, it turns out to be a tall tale. But as this Wikipedia entry on Made-up words in The Simpsons (via me-fi) illustrates, technology and rabid fandom conspire to make the contemporary lexicographer's job a fast-moving one.

Revisiting Michael Heizer's City, and using this location map to pin it down in Google Earth (tip: enter <3801'48" N, 11526'10" W> into the search bar - it's a bit blurry, though). Related, sightseeing with Google maps / whatever you do, don't send in the clowns, because the risk of coulrophobia (actually a relatively new word, one that seems to be a result of commercial demand) / iPod Subway maps / some more deliberately false things: a compilation of 555 numbers from films, comics and TV / the Colossus hoax.

A List of British English words not used in American English / unpublished Pictures of Bombed-Out Berlin / gas, tires, oil, a petrolhead website / the B-Thing's World Trade Center was a project to make a covert balcony high up on the WTC. However, the blurb gives the building 38 more storeys than it actually had, which casts a bit of doubt on the whole enterprise. It was conceived in 2000 / 'Usher in the Love, how to make a puff piece', by Sarah Hepola.