Monday, November 16, 2009

Erin McKean Redefines the Dictionary- Live blogging as Proofreading Practise: Jenny Nielsen

Lexicography: The practise of compiling dictionaries. People are confused about what they do. It is not easy or fun to be a traffic cop in this context. You have to keep in the good words, and leave out the bad words. A better metaphor would be "a fisherman" as opposed to a traffic cop. To throw in your net and haul up whatever treasures there are; she blames the queen.

What about computers and online dictionaries? Paper thrown up on the screen is flat. There is not a lot going on in online dictionaries. They replicate the problems of print. It may be helpful to remember the "Ham but" problem story (why do we throw away the but of the ham?) Our Mother threw it away, and our grandmother threw it away but why? It was because the pan was too small. Don't blame the dictionary for not including a word, and don't blame the ham for the problem of the pan. Paper is the enemy of words. The book is not the best shape for the dictionary. We still need paper dictionaries, just not a majority of paper dictionaries. We do not know a lot about some of the less common, or exciting words. We need to use more words to build our expression. Words are the tools that we use to build the expressions of our thoughts. How do we know that our words are real? Love makes words real. Being in the dictionary is an artificial description. We should worry less about control and more about love and useage. Make the mobile move by using it. Use words.
There can only be so many traffic cops, but use them for other jobs. There are undictionary words in all books. "Set" has 33 definitions. Think of the dictionary as a map of the English language: we don't know very much. We are missing huge land masses, and we don't notice. It is not rocket science. Find words!! All you need is a telescope. The internet is made up of words and enthusiasm. remember to show the context. You need the source of the word or it us like a cut flower and will die. The dictionary is a part of the language. We could make the dictionary a bigger language just use a different pan. We need to put in all the words and leave the aesthetic judgement to the writers and the speakers.
Check out a list of new words!

1 comment:

  1. the semi-colon after "treasures there are," probably should be a period and a new sentence should be started afterwards with a total thought.

    the 'butt' of 'ham' should have two 'T's as it's referring to a derriere.

    Make the mobile move is not a correct sentence, or a coherent one.

    GOOD JOB!!!