Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dictionary Project

Over the weekend, I did something I haven’t done in I don’t know how long. I opened a dictionary. I don’t mean an online dictionary, one that I consult anywhere from 20 to 50 times a day. I mean a real, hard-copy, paper and ink, real-world, hold- it-in-your-hands, place-it-on-the-table, flip-the-pages dictionary.
When I was in my 20’s, I started making lists of words I came across in my everyday reading and listening. I also made it a habit always to have a dictionary within reach—and not only English dictionaries but foreign-language dictionaries as well—Spanish, Latin, Japanese, Hebrew, and other languages with which I am familiar. I even kept one in my car. I began constantly to look up etymologies, pronunciations, and alternate meanings of words.
In recent years, because of the virtual ubiquity of online language resources, I have hardly touched my many dictionaries. I am sure they have missed me as much as I have missed them. So, yesterday I pulled my trusty American Heritage Dictionary off the shelf and delved into it, as of old. It was very nostalgic.
A few years ago on my blog, I started a dictionary project, in which I began to go through the dictionary from A to Z (I’m still in the A’s) to learn interesting new words and comment on those words I found interesting. This link will connect you to what I have written so far.
I am resolving to pick up the narrative and continue my journey through the English lexicon. Some like to slide down mountains on skis; some like to skim across the water or dive into the depths of the ocean. I am rarely happier than when immersed in words and their pedigrees.
Please feel free to share interesting words, phrases, and/or anecdotes about words for research, comment, inclusion and attribution in my blog.

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