I Know Words, and I Love the Oxford English Dictionary

I know words; I just wish I knew the best of words.

Lately, pundits and so-called experts analyze every word that is uttered. Politicians, on both sides of the aisle, use and abuse words so frequently that it becomes important to recall John Locke’s argument to never trust words to stand for things in themselves.

How many words can one make out of glib?

I find solace in reminding myself that there is beauty in words, those we say and those we don’t say. Words we are afraid to say out loud and words we hope to hear one day. Words, when we choose the right ones, can evolve into the most amazing sentences.

The Oxford English Dictionary

Oxford English DictionaryAnother fascinating look at words is available from the New Words List of the Oxford English Dictionary. What is stracciatella? Is it ice cream or soup? How in the world did trout pout and binky make it into the dictionary? Are you wondering if they are working chop-chop at the chop-shop? Is the female version of a cool dude a dudette or a smurfette? Well, smurf and smurfette did not make into the dictionary, but dudette did. But, I am confident that smurfing will soon make it from the urban language dictionary into the OED.

The Oxford English Dictionary was first published in 10 volumes in 1928. Revisions and expansion led to the publishing of 20 volumes in 1989. I wonder how many volumes a 2016 edition would be. Would I have enough bookshelves to proudly display them? Considering that revised and new entries are added four times a year, the books would be quickly outdated. Guess I better continue to adapt to the electronic age.

It would be sacrilegious not to mention the comma, the one I struggle with, the pretentious little mark that can save a person’s life.

At the end of the day, however, I believe in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

“Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.”


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