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American Heritage Dictionary has a new editor: Steve Kleinedler

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Congrats to Steve Kleinedler, on his new job as Editor of American Heritage Dictionary. He knows words. In 2009, Steve wrote a powerful post about the death of his husband, Peter Dubuque, which revealed how "ordinary" same-sex marriage had become in Massachusetts. I've linked to that post many times over the past few years. It really moved me and a lot of other people.

Andrew Harmon wrote an article about Steve's new job at the Advocate, including a link to his post at AMERICAblog:

“The job of dictionaries is primarily to describe how language is used, not to dictate how it should be used,” lexicographer Steve Kleinedler, The American Heritage Dictionary’s new executive editor, wrote in a 2009 op-ed.

The statement is part American Heritage Dictionary ethos, part personal experience. In 2009, Kleinedler’s husband died suddenly, just two months after Kleinedler and fellow editors had revised the definitions of several marriage-related words to reflect the changing culture. The definition of widower, for example, was revised from "a man whose wife has died and who has not remarried" to "a man whose spouse has died and who has not remarried."

“In the shattered aftermath of profound loss, an obsolete or incomplete definition of widower would seem an insignificant detail,” Kleinedler wrote, “but all such trivial details viewed together coalesce into a constant reminder of a two-tiered, unequal system. Therefore, having had the ability to revise the definitions that appear in a major American dictionary took on an important resonance for me.”

Kleinedler ascended to the dictionary’s top editor position Monday after 14 years on staff. He previously served as supervising editor.
Changing words, changing society.

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