Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Whither wander modern words?

This article tells of some trials and tribulations of modern dictionaries and old ones, too. I have spent some non-small portion of my life with my nose in one or the other of these books: hardbound, paperback, Spanish-English, unabridged, collegiate, even elementary or Scrabble. If you like words and wordplay, read the article. If you value your dictionary and wonder if it will be around some day soon, read the article.

Comments welcomed.


  1. I have many dictionaries including one from the 1920's - HUGE and in the back are 'sections' with basic information on English, Science, Algebra, American History and Biology. I love it.
    My recent dictionary purchase is "Black's Law" - it is heavier than 2 of any other dictionaries combined. There is a 'pocket' version - very abridged. There is also an online version and one you can put on your iPhone. I admit to using the online version at times when quickly scanning cases in Westlaw...but the big heavy book itself? Yep -- my trusty companion.

    There is a small part of my school that still uses a card-catalog. The original card-catalog - complete with little slips of paper tucked into slots on the drawers (right below the tarnished brass drawer-pull) - the paper slips note which digest/reporter/register is listed. I love pulling out the drawers and just rifling through them. Thinking of the days as a kid that I would select 1 book everytime time at the library from 'random pulls'. I'd select a part of the Dewey Decimal system, head to that set of drawers, pull one open, close my eyes and rifle through -- then STOP! Off I'd go to find the book and it was on the shelf, I'd check it out and read it. Some were amazing! Some surprised me and some...well...those went back early!

    Hmmm -- dictionaries in book form and card-catalogs...I am old.

  2. Well, I never randomly selected books. That's an interesting way to pick reading. I was so intent on reading the things I wanted to read that randomizing was out in the ether to me. ;)

    I do have a Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary on its own SD card for my Palm Tungsten E2 PDA. I got it when I was doing proofreading after I got stuck in a remote cabin in NM one cold spring with nothing but an elementary school version on their bookshelves. It is clunky and much harder to use for me than the very familiar paper version. And I seldom have the fun of getting lost down bunny trails of new and exciting words when I use the electronic version.