Monday, November 15, 2010

The Dictionary

So I’ve decided it’s time to analyze where I’m getting my information about the words I’ve been posting. One main source is dictionaries. Very controversial right? Well actually, yes. I must admit that when I think of dictionaries I usually picture a giant brick of a book that I would rather not approach. Since this blogging experience began, I have realized that online dictionaries come in all shapes and sizes. You have the OED, very traditional, and sites like Urban Dictionary that are more contemporary and offer information on modern slang. For people who share my same stigma towards “The Dictionary” and its inapproachability, sites like Urban Dictionary can be helpful. It’s really great to know that reputable literary blogs like Beyond Words recognize the need for the inclusion of modern words in the dictionary. Take this post for example; words like retweet and zumba are even being included in the dictionary, even though my spell check on word still puts that nasty ret line under them.

In my bit of dictionary research I found a wonderful TED Talks video by Erin McKean, a lexicographer for the online dictionary Wordnik. I recommend watching the video for those extremely interested in the topic of this blog. Here’s a short summary:

· The dictionary comes across as very old and stagnant

· Although the internet seems to have helped, the internet merely speeds up the search process. Online dictionaries still have a Victorian era form. The internet improves search-ability but the con to that is the decrease in serendipity. You are less likely to stumble upon new words because the search process is now extremely direct and easy.

· There is a stigma that words not in the dictionary are “bad words” (McKean thinks that all words that are used should be good word) If a word isn’t in the dictionary, then it’s probably a bad dictionary without a broad enough scope.

· How do you know what a “real” word is… love and usage make words real

· Words are like archeological artifacts, without a source and origin they just become “pretty things to look at.” This shows the importance of links, especially with internet capability.

To wrap up this post… I know the words I select may not be the rarest. I think the words we use in everyday language demand more attention and analyzing so that speakers are aware of the implications behind their word choice.

1 comment:

    This song was playing in my head the whole time I read your post. Anyway, I really did enjoy some of your analysis. As for not stumbling upon words, I liike to use the thesaurus for finding new words to say what I want.