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Friday, April 24, 2009

Quilling in the dictionary - follow up

I thought I would update you on our efforts to get quilling into the dictionary. As I told you last time, Merriam-Webster were nice enough to thank me for my inquiry and sent me some info as to how a word goes about being selected to add to the dictionary. (See previous post) Since they talked about keeping track of how many times it is used, I thought I might aid them in their research. I sent them the bibliography which lists all of the quilling articles, books, kits etc. compiled by Donna DelGuidice, the archivist for the North American Quilling Guild. The copy I sent them included everything Donna has listed up to 2006. She is presently working on updating those files; when I get them I will email those to Merriam-Webster as well. I figured that if I keep pestering them and sending them more info, they might actually get around to adding it. This is the email I sent this time:

“Thank you for your response to my inquiry. I have attached a bibliography compiled by the North American Quilling Guild. It includes a pretty comprehensive list of books and articles about quilling, as well as quilling kits. This list includes everything we (the NAQG) guild have compiled up to 2006 and is currently being updated; perhaps this will be useful in your citation research. Those of us who quill are very hopeful that you will decide to add quilling to the dictionary. This art form, the art of rolling narrow strips of paper and pinching them into various shapes to create intricate and beautiful art work, dates back many centuries. The only way we see the term used today is in reference to porcupine quills or the Native American craft of using those quills to create jewelry and other decorative work. I have also seen the term "quilling" used to refer to the time when hedgehogs lose or shed their quills. If there is anything the North American Quilling Guild or I can do to help in this endeavor, please let me know.”

If any of you are interested in jumping on the band wagon, please do! (Merriam-Webster)

On another note, Ann Martin, another quiller posted this on her blog: Those of us who do paper filigree know that spell check isn't happy with the word quilling. Whether we type it or quiller in an email or Word doc, the words are flamed with bright yellow causing us to see red. Thanks for the suggestions dear computer, but we are neither quilters nor killers. Since paper quilling has been around for hundreds of years, it's high time it's defined in the dictionary and is accepted as a word in its own right.Pat Caputo of Whimsiquills recently wrote to Merriam-Webster to present the idea of adding the definition of quilling as we know it - the art of rolling narrow strips of paper to make an intricate design - to the dictionary. While Pat works on that aspect, there's something that each one of us who quills can do to help in the meantime.The next time you type quilling or quiller in an email or Word doc and it shows up as a misspelling, just click the word, and then click Add to Dictionary. It won't be marked as misspelled again by your computer - huzzah! - and perhaps even more important, the information will be fed to Microsoft's software. Once a correction is received enough times, it reaches real, live editors who make a decision on whether to make the change.

So... quillers unite! If we work together, we can make a difference. And if you're a quiller and a geek, you can read more here about Microsoft's spelling policy.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Quilling & Quiller in the Dictionary

I was recently talking to one of my vendors and telling him about the upcoming North American Quilling Guild conference (NAQGCON) conference which is coming up May1-3, in Tampa, FL (For more information about the NAQGCON check out the web site or the NAQGCON Blog which I posted on January 9th. ) I was talking about sending press releases about the NAQGCON and how we always suggest that the host print at the top of the press release “this is QUILLING not QUILTING” and “Please do not use spell check”. I told him about the time I was giving a quilling class for some organization and I had a woman come in and ask “Where are the quilts?” Apparently one of the newspapers had written that I was giving a “quilting” class. Fortunately, she was a good sport and sat down and learned how to QUILL! At any rate, Andy, said to me “I think it would be a really good idea for the quilling guild to work on getting quilling put into the dictionary.” So . . . I mentioned it on the NAQG Yahoo quilling group and everyone who commented seemed to think it was a good idea. Several commented that “quill” is already in the dictionary, but in reference to a feather, a pen, or porcupine or hedgehog “quills”. (I have seen the term “quilling” used to describe the shedding process of hedgehogs.) I contacted Merriam Webster and explained what quilling was and told them there were thousands of us out here . . . and if they just “Googled” the word quilling; they would see that it is already in use and has been for some time.

They sent me an email explaining how a word gets into the dictionary which I have printed it below. I think my next step will be to send them a copy of the NAQG’s bibliography. This was compiled by Donna DelGiudice. In it she has listed every quilling book, article, kit etc. (It is available to NAQG members on the NAQG web site in case anyone is interested.) I guess after that, I’ll wait for a response to determine the next step. If any of you have thoughts on the subject, I would love to hear from you. You can email me directly at or leave a comment here on the blog. I guess if we are successful the next step is to get “quilling” and “quillers” included in the Microsoft spell check dictionary. Anyone know anybody at Microsoft?

How does a word get into a Merriam-Webster dictionary? This is one of the questions Merriam-Webster editors are most often asked. The answer is simple: usage.

Tracking word usage

To decide which words to include in the dictionary and to determine what they mean, Merriam-Webster editors study the language as it's used. They carefully monitor which words people use most often and how they use them.

Each day most Merriam-Webster editors devote an hour or two to reading a cross section of published material, including books, newspapers, magazines, and electronic publications; in our office this activity is called "reading and marking." The editors scour the texts in search of new words, new usages of existing words, variant spellings, and inflected forms—in short, anything that might help in deciding if a word belongs in the dictionary, understanding what it means, and determining typical usage. Any word of interest is marked, along with surrounding context that offers insight into its form and use.


The marked passages are then input into a computer system and stored both in machine-readable form and on 3" x 5" slips of paper to create citations.

Each citation has the following elements:

1. the word itself
2. an example of the word used in context
3. bibliographic information about the source from which the word and example were taken

Merriam-Webster's citation files, which were begun in the 1880s, now contain 15.7 million examples of words used in context and cover all aspects of the English vocabulary. Citations are also available to editors in a searchable text database (linguists call it a corpus) that includes more than 70 million words drawn from a great variety of sources.

From citation to entry

How does a word make the jump from the citation file to the dictionary?

The process begins with dictionary editors reviewing groups of citations. Definers start by looking at citations covering a relatively small segment of the alphabet — for example gri- to gro- — along with the entries from the dictionary being reedited that are included within that alphabetical section. It is the definer's job to determine which existing entries can remain essentially unchanged, which entries need to be revised, which entries can be dropped, and which new entries should be added. In each case, the definer decides on the best course of action by reading through the citations and using the evidence in them to adjust entries or create new ones.

Before a new word can be added to the dictionary, it must have enough citations to show that it is widely used. But having a lot of citations is not enough; in fact, a large number of citations might even make a word more difficult to define, because many citations show too little about the meaning of a word to be helpful. A word may be rejected for entry into a general dictionary if all of its citations come from a single source or if they are all from highly specialized publications that reflect the jargon of experts within a single field.

To be included in a Merriam-Webster dictionary, a word must be used in a substantial number of citations that come from a wide range of publications over a considerable period of time. Specifically, the word must have enough citations to allow accurate judgments about its establishment, currency, and meaning.

The number and range of citations needed to add a word to the dictionary varies. In rare cases, a word jumps onto the scene and is both instantly prevalent and likely to last, as was the case in the 1980s with AIDS. In such a situation, the editors determine that the word has become firmly established in a relatively short time and should be entered in the dictionary, even though its citations may not span the wide range of years exhibited by other words.

Size does matter

The size and type of dictionary also affects how many citations a word needs to gain admission. Because an abridged dictionary, such as Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary, has fairly limited space, only the most commonly used words can be entered; to get into that type of dictionary, a word must be supported by a significant number of citations. But a large unabridged dictionary, such as Webster's Third New International Dictionary, has room for many more words, so terms with fewer citations can still be included.

Authority without authoritarianism

Change and variation are as natural in language as they are in other areas of human life and Merriam-Webster reference works must reflect that fact. By relying on citational evidence, we hope to keep our publications grounded in the details of current usage so they can calmly and dispassionately offer information about modern English. That way, our references can speak with authority without being authoritarian.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Quilling with Molly Smith Part # 2

Last week I featured Molly Smith in my blog “interview”. If you haven’t read it yet’ you will want to (Quilling with Molly Smith). It is an interesting story of how she discovered quilling and what she has done with it. Molly Smith is an author, product developer and designer specializing in paper projects. Her products have been shown on DIY, The Carol Duvall Show and sold on QVC. She is published internationally and the author of "The New Paper Quilling”: Creative Techniques for scrapbooks, Cards, Home Accents & More" (Lark, 2006). Molly is currently working on a book about paper bead jewelry and she has agreed to share her knowledge with you regarding getting your work “published”.

“I often get asked how to get a book published or project idea in a magazine or book. So I'd like to share some information and tips on this subject.

Magazine project: Every craft magazine has a section listing the editor's name. Email that person and request 1) their editorial calendar, and 2) their submission guidelines. These two documents will give you all the information you need to submit a picture of a project for publication. If your project is accepted, they will contact you with additional information on the deadlines and writing instructions.

Book project: Find names of major publishers from the library, online or favorite books. Usually their Internet web page will have a section for submissions. In this area will be a list of "artist call-outs" for submitting single or multiple projects for a specific book already in the works. Most call-outs are self-explanatory and have complete instructions. Deadlines listed for submissions are often extended. If you come across a call-out with a short deadline, email and ask if there is a possibility it will be extended. They may be waiting on only one more project, or need 20 more. Read the instructions carefully and submit exactly as required.

If you are serious about writing a craft book and have at least 40 projects in mind and on paper, the first step is to submit a book query. This entails writing a letter and giving information about yourself (mini bio), describing your ideas for a book in detail and include pictures of specific ideas you listed. Many publishers have book query instructions on the web page. Do not send out multiple queries to publishers all at once. Be patient and wait for a response. If it is negative, send a query to another publisher. If they are interested in your idea, they will contact you and ask for a book proposal.

If you get to this point, I would suggest researching how to submit a book proposal online or at the library. There are some important do's and don'ts you will need to know. For example, don't name your book or suggest a cover right off the bat. More than likely you will have no say-so in these decisions. A book proposal is much more complicated and the query and entails almost submitting your book for a review. They will tell you what to do but it includes a table of contents, the introduction, several projects with instructions, tear sheets of any work you have had published, a list of books similar to what you are proposing and why/how your book will differ.

Project fees: Five years ago, I could list which magazines pay what for projects. With each year, the fees change or are terminated depending on the publishers' budgets. You will need to inquire with each magazine publisher to find out if they pay a one-time fee for a project, and if so, what is the range. For magazine projects, it's my experience that fees range from $60 to $250. For the higher fee, more work is involved, such as photos for each step, additional detailed instructions and even submission of materials and tools used. You also need to inquire if they pay the shipping costs-- most do not. Fees for projects are usually paid to the artist 45 days after the final project submission is received by the publisher.

Fees for book projects range from no fee for gallery projects up to around $150 per submission. I recently accepted a small fee for a book project; however they paid for all shipping and reimbursed me for my supplies. A gallery project is a picture only and they will list you as the artist and a short bio on you in the back of the book. The payoff is to be able to say you were published in a book if you are building a portfolio. The individual websites will indicate if they are looking for gallery projects. Although there is no payment, this is a good way to get to know the editors and get your name in their database for future call-outs that do pay. Fees for projects are normally paid to you when the book is released. This could be anywhere from two to four months after the project is submitted to the publisher.

Fees for authoring a book are paid in royalty payments. This is a small percentage based on the total books sold and payments are made quarterly or bi-annually. Book contracts are very specific and are negotiable. After a contract is signed, an advance is paid to you for materials, supplies and shipping. This amount is deducted from your first royalty check which is paid after the book is released.

To see some of Molly’s jewelry visit her Etsy Shop , or