Campaign for the word levidrome gets boost


A six-year-old Victoria boy on his way to getting his new word added to Oxford English Dictionary continues to get more international exposure, today appearing on a U.S. morning news show.

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The story of Levi Budd, a Grade 2 student at St. Michaels University School, appeared this morning on the Today Show with Matt Laur.

Budd coined "levidrome" to describe a word that forms another when spelled backward, like pool and loop, or spit and tips. With media and celebrity attention, the word has been gaining attention.

Last week, Oxford Dictionaries team in Oxford, England, responded in a video to the boy’s campaign.

Rebecca Juganaru, senior assistant editor for Oxford Dictionaries, tells Levi: "Lots of people know your word and they know what it means, which means levidrome is well on its way into our dictionary. After only five weeks, that's really impressive."

Almost daily father Robert Budd is overwhelmed by how much excitement and attention the story has attracted from media and celebrities and even politicians.

It all started with the natural curiosity of a six-year-old boy engaged in reading and language.

Canadian actor William Shatner, who played Capt. James T. Kirk in the Star Trek series, is one of Levi’s most well-known supporters. Shatner wrote to Oxford himself to encourage them to add the word levidrome.

The word levidrome needs to evolve into ordinary usage, Oxford says. Schoolchildren in B.C. and Ontario have already started doing that, according to the boy's father.

"Then all we do is wait and hope people keep using your word," Juganaru says in the video.

"In a year or so, if lots of people are still using your word, it might well get into our dictionary."

Budd, an oral historian, had originally proposed the word to dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster. Told the word had to be in regular use, the family created a video explaining its origin and posted it to YouTube.

Levidrome has already been added to the crowd-sourced online Urban Dictionary, which began in 1999 as a dictionary of slang words and phrases. It’s also been included in Merriam-Webster's online "open dictionary" of new words and slang.

A palindrome describes a word that can be spelled backwards or forwards, such as noon, civic or radar. The word emordnilap - palindrome backward - has been long suggested to describe words that spell a different word backwards, but it does not appear in the Oxford or Merriam-Webster dictionaries.

Budd said the popularity of his son's story is likely based in a few simple themes about childhood curiosity and wonder, a love of literature and words, and how an idea can grow.

"Levi is every kid. Every kid is questioning the world around them," said Budd.

It’s parents’ job to engage in a child’s interests and nurture their curiosity and model for them what we tell them “you are capable of anything.”

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