Sunday, October 11, 2009

Is A Dictionary A Dictionary?: Well, we believe they are when we buy them, even though it isn't that often. Most of us don't own one, or if we do, it's an antequated family heirloom which is so out of date it doesn't have the word 'nuclear' listed; never mind 'overkill.'
And they do go out of date, moreso in these recent years when words like 'Quidditch' and 'Blogger' have entered our vocabulary from Harry Potter books, and the jargon-heavy Internet.
Yes, I know a dictionary is now attached to one of our Word documents menus, and often, also a Thesaurus; so by and large the dictionary as a book has largely become redundant, other than for the crossword fanatics of this world, of whom there are many.
But a couple of years ago, Mrs. B bought me a new Dictionary, and a Dictionary and Thesaurus. The dictionary is by the well reputed publisher, Collins, and cost her 50 pence. A bargain. But it seems to me as if there are 'Bargain' dictionaries which are cheap, and 'Not Bargain' dictionaries, which are...expensive; and there is a difference!
This bargain dictionary which Mrs. B kindly bought me to replace an older and tattier one, is now called 'The Magic Dictionary,' just as the Geddes & Grosset Concise Dictionary and Thesaurus also shares the same title with 'Magic' added.
Now, Mrs. B, who has known me since 1971, has always been pretty sure that I am a bit of a lunatic, and this pair of books confirmed that notion 100% when I told her, on numerous occasions, that every word I need to look up is never there. It's as if these two books are of a similar ilk to the 'own brand' products our supermarkets have on sale, where we pay the going rate for a packet of cheese and onion crisps which taste of cheese and onion, or next to nothing for a packet where the crisps were allowed to rattle along the same conveyor belt but no flavour was added; so they just have the faintest whiff of cheese and onion.
Of course, this doesn't happen 100% of the time, or the books would be filled with blank pages, (or we'd just have plain crisps), but believe me, it does happen, I am not imagining it, and it is infuriating! It's as if there's a goblin or gremlin or something similar here in the room, and when I pick up either book, he 'magics' the word I'm after right off the page. But no, it proved to be far simpler and more logical than that.
The two books Mrs. B bought me seem to be 'edited' editions for children, with any too complex or profane words removed; which is probably why they were a bargain, because whoever would want a dictionary like that; other than The Pope? Even the kids want to see all of the words in our marvellous English language, they don't want to be censored!
So there we are, problem solved...or is it?
Just so that Mrs. B knows when another 'bargain' dictionary or thesaurus enters her line of vision, wouldn't it be nice if they added 'Edited for Children,' or 'The Real McCoy For Big Boy's!' so that we knew what we were buying. It's a pity, because she thought she was doing me a favour, but it seems as if our dictionary manufacturer's are under the impression that Enid Blyton's 'perfect world for children' still exists.