Website Helps Rescue Obscure Words The website savethewords.org offers the chance to bring arcane words back to life. Web surfers can "adopt" a word like "historiaster," which means "contemptible historian," or obarmate, which means "to arm against." By adopting the word, people pledge to use it in everyday speech and writing. The site has attracted media attention from around the world. Upon investigation, it turns out to be the project of an advertising agency. The office of Young and Rubicam in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, was hired to promote the print version of the Oxford English Dictionary. Robert Siegel tells us about it, and we hear from Y&R creative director Edward Ong, who helped create the site, and has been astounded at its worldwide appeal.
NPR logo

Website Helps Rescue Obscure Words

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/131194735/131194700" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Website Helps Rescue Obscure Words

Website Helps Rescue Obscure Words

Website Helps Rescue Obscure Words

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/131194735/131194700" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The website savethewords.org offers the chance to bring arcane words back to life. Web surfers can "adopt" a word like "historiaster," which means "contemptible historian," or obarmate, which means "to arm against." By adopting the word, people pledge to use it in everyday speech and writing. The site has attracted media attention from around the world. Upon investigation, it turns out to be the project of an advertising agency. The office of Young and Rubicam in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, was hired to promote the print version of the Oxford English Dictionary. Robert Siegel tells us about it, and we hear from Y&R creative director Edward Ong, who helped create the site, and has been astounded at its worldwide appeal.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

Unidentified People: Pick me. Hello.

SIEGEL: Unidentified People: Choose me. No, pick me.

SIEGEL: Edward Ong is one of the people behind this. Mr. Ong is a Creative Director at Young and Rubicam Advertising Agency in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Y and R designed the ad campaign for the print edition of the Oxford English Dictionary for Malaysia and Singapore. We quaeritated him earlier about his motives.

EDWARD ONG: One of the problems we were facing is that many people prefer to use the online dictionary. So we thought: Why not get them to cultivate a love for words and then push them back to the physical dictionary that they were using?

SIEGEL: Yes, he's in it for the money. He's a philargyrist. And it turned out that the very success of the website was absolutely pudifying.

ONG: The next thing we knew, the site kept crashing, and we wondering: What in the world? We found that a lot of people have adopted it, a lot of bloggers have used it, a lot of people are talking about it.

SIEGEL: Unidentified People: Hello. Yo, pick me. Me, me. Yo.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.