Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy Hogmanay*

I just (in the last couple of days) discovered TED, and only yesterday made a little time to poke around a little bit. I'm something of a word geek, so it should come as no surprise that I would choose to share this one:

Erin McKean: Redefining the dictionary (sorry. I played with the HTML long enough to get her presentation embedded here, but can't figure out why it locks up 14 seconds in and loses the sound. Just click over there (Warning: it's a 16 minute speech))

I don't know that I concur with everything she says, but I certainly agree that language is an evolving tool, and that our record of it should be as complete as we can possibly make it.

That's why I join her in loving the Oxford English Dictionary above all other dictionaries (except maybe the Funk & Wagnall's my paternal grandmother gave me on my eleventh Christmas). Of course, the full 20-volume OED has a sticker price of three grand and a shipping weight over 100 pounds, plus the cost of a new bookcase to replace the one that would collapse under the weight.

The online version is, unfortunately (though understandably) subscription only at 30 bucks a month or 300 bucks a year. I guess what it comes down to is that if you're a serious word geek, you own one. If you're only something of a word geek, you just kinda wish...

*The name given in Scotland (and some parts of the north of England) to the last day of the year, also called ‘Cake-day’; the gift of an oatmeal cake, or the like, which children expect, and in some parts systematically solicit, on that day; the word shouted by children calling at friends' houses and soliciting this customary gift.

And yes, it's the word-of-the-day from the OED online.

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