Wednesday, June 12, 2013

For the Love of Dictionaries

The Chronicle of Higher Education has published three articles in the past week or so with a focus on dictionaries, particularly the Merriam-Webster 3rd Edition and its descendents. All three are by Allan Metcalf, professor of English at MacMurray College and stylish wearer of Tilley hats.

The first, "Redefining the Dictionary," meditates on the movement of dictionaries from print to online, and looks at some of the new features the digital medium might offer.

The second, "Unabridged," looks at the publication of Wesbter's Third New International Dictionary, a volume that brought consternation for its refusal to condemn colloquialisms like "ain't" and so forth.

The third, "Unabridged Online," continues the exploration of the legacy of Webster's Third, arguing that the new online Unabridged is the rightful heir to this storied volume.

Part of what got me interested in materialist issues in the first place was a fascination with the power and influence of dictionaries. Metcalf's reflections reminded me of these interests, and so I share them with you. Enjoy.

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