Monday, November 16, 2009

Erin McKean Redefines the Dictionary-Live Blogging as Proofreading Practise: Brent Stempfle

Lexicography is the practice of compiling words for dictionaries. Lexicographers don't decide what words get in the dictionary because it's not easy or fun. They're more like fishermen fishing for words than traffic cops. It's the Queen's fault because dictionaries haven't changed since Victoria was in power. James Murray has a hat and shouldn't have control over words. "Google Words" doesn't change the result of dictionaries.

Online dictionaries replicate all dictionaries problems except searchability, but this eliminates serendipity, finding words you weren't looking for. It's like a ham in a pan that's too small. Words aren't necessarily bad, but dictionaries can be. Paper is the enemy of words. The book is a bad shape for the dictionary. We should study all words because humble parts make great expressions. If words are tools used to build expressions of thoughts, you need the right tool for the job. Being in the dictionary doesn't make a word real, and not being in it doesn't make a word wrong. It is better to count words than direct them. If one in 100 newspaper pages had a wrong word, they make another dictionary. Set has 33 numbered definitions.

The internet shows words, but not context. Senicdococally is using the something as a synonym for a greater whole, like the word dictionary for the entire language. The book dictionary is dead because it's not useful enough. It should be able to encompass the entire language, as the internet is able to do.

1 comment:

  1. The post is well-written, but the first paragraph lacks a bit of continuity between sentences. (I had the same problem starting out with the whole stream of consciousness thing). It would sound better by including some more compound and complex sentences.

    Also, the word that McKean apparently used in describing the dictionary (as ironic as that sounds) as a symbol for our entire language was "synecdochically," which is just the adverbial form of "synecdoche." It's just spelled wrong in the post, which is understandable.