Katherine Barber

As Editor-in-Chief of Dictionaries at OUP Canada from 1991 to 2008, Katherine Barber oversaw two editions of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary and many smaller dictionaries and thesauruses. She blogs about the language at katherinebarber.blogspot.com and uses as many functional-shifted words as she possibly can. Like “blog”.

Articles by Katherine Barber


Functional shift is one of the great efficiencies of English, and we can do it with great ease because we don't have to bother about different endings for nouns, verbs, and adjectives, as other languages do.

When adjectives become verbs

Loathsome. Wretched. Horrible. These were the words used on a recent Twitter debate about a new usage. If it had gone on much longer, people would doubtless have weighed in with the other heavy hitters of language criticism: Clumsy! Infelicitous! Abomination! Why or how these new usages merit such opprobrium is never explained objectively. After […]

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