Monday, November 16, 2009

Erin McKean Redefines the Dictionary- Live Blogging as Proofreading Practise: Murriel Mapa

A Lexicographer is someone who writes and studies the dictionary, while lexicography is a compilation of words in the dictionary. Lexicographical has a double dactile same as higgly-piggly." A lexicographer doesn't decide what words are good or bad. The definition of a dictionary hasn't changed since the F-word was put into it in 1965. The maker of the Oxford dictionary is who controls what is we perceive today as good or bad in the English language. Computers don't do much else than just speed up the process of looking up a word, the design of the dictionary has not changed. Online dictionaries replicate all problems of printed ones, but search-ability increases serendipity. Erin McKean brings up the "ham-butt problem" that is described as throwing away a perfectly good piece of meat for no reason, which is comparable to the way in which people treat words. People sometimes perceive a word as a "bad" word if it is not found in the dictionary, but this is not the case. The dictionary just isn't big enough to hold every word in the English language and needs a bigger pan per se. "Paper is the enemy of words," meaning that the typical dictionaries are just not as used as online dictionaries. The only way to make a word a real word is to love the word. If there is a word you love to use, use it because a dictionary is just an artificial distinction. This is what makes words real and come to life. McKean compares lexicography with directing traffic and sometimes a person needs help doing this. If there were more than one person controlling traffic, it would be difficult and confusing at first, but a lot more would get done. This is the same with the dictionary; if there were more people contributing to enlarge the dictionary, people wouldn't believe that words are good or bad. She also compares the English language to a map, where the lighter spots were symbolized as the words we knew, and the darker areas are the newer words we haven't discovered yet.

1 comment:

  1. Paragraphs would be very useful, if only to increase readability since big blocks of text are hard to track on a computer screen.

    There is one typo in the following sentence: "The maker of the Oxford dictionary is who controls what is we perceive today as good or bad in the English language. " The second "is" in this sentence not needed.