Thursday, September 2, 2010

What's in a word?

I recently opened the newspaper to see this headline!  It turns out that Oxford University Press is uncertain whether the 126-year old dictionary's next edition will be printed on paper at all.  Apparently so many people are using the on-line version that it doesn't seem cost effective.  Do you know how my heart skipped a beat when I read this?

Now I am not opposed to the Internet and all of its uses, after all I'm here talking to you through the wonders of this device.  But some things should not be tampered with!  There is something magical for me in looking at a dictionary.

I have two old dictionaries that I use and love and I do mean old.  The youngest of the two has a copyright of 1955 and the oldest doesn't have a copyright - I believe that page was long gone when I found this in an antique store. 

Both of them have illustrations throughout - especially the older one.  You can see by this page showing the evolution of the 'locomotive' that this book is from another time!  The pages are falling out but they are each a beautiful old tan color, having aged as if someone dipped them in tea. 

My 'newer' dictionary, being a little bit less fragile, is the one I use the most.  It is heavy having 1432 pages between the covers.  Some of the most wonderful pages are at the very back where there are lists of boys and girls names and their meanings, signs and symbols, weights and measures and even foreign alphabets.  Who needs a computer when one can page through this book and discover all these wonders.

Call me old-fashioned but I hope that the printed dictionary never, ever fades away into a totally technological world.  Now how do you spell 'enchantment'?

"Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary". - Kahlil Gibran


  1. You are so write, I mean right!

    When I am at work, I use spell check or an on line dictionary. However, when I am home, I get the Websters. I have taught my grandkids to do this also, even though the computer is available to them. I suppose its old fashioned. I suppose I should want to save a tree. I suppose the cost of each book will increase because they print less. I suppose I SHOULD want Kindle. But I don't. I want to read the newspaper in the AM. I want to hold a paper book in my hand when I read, and I WANT to use a book to look up a spelling, meaning, synonym etc.

    I'm 58 and old school.

  2. Penny, I know your thoughts and feelings. I've had them as well. I worked in a library, and every time I pass there now I wonder how long it will be around. Books are treasured by many of us, but it is a sign of our times that hard copies of everything are disappearing. Even though I joining you in mourning this (big sigh), I think we have to pay attention to the importance of preserving trees. They are important to the very survival of our planet. Maybe another kind of hard copy substance can be invented that won't hurt the environment.

  3. Oh my, you guys are so right -- I didn't really think about the paper used for books. I was just going with my 'gut' feelings about loving to hold a book in my hand. At this point I can't imagine ever reading a book via Kindle but then at one time I would never have thought that I'd be making long distance friends whom I would never meet in person!

  4. Awwww...sweet reply, Penny. Yeah, we all have to think ahead for our planet, if not for us then for future generations. But I truly am nostalgically with you in wanting to hold a book in my hands. I guess our kids and their kids will feel really comfortable with an e-reader, but I don't know about me ever getting to that point.



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