Sunday, October 16, 2016

Happy Dictionary Day 2016!

Noah Webster, considered the Father of the American Dictionary, was born on October 16, 1758. That day is now marked as National Dictionary Day.

I love all my dictionaries, but I do love some more than others. My absolute favorite is Webster's New International Unabridged Dictionary, 2nd Edition. This is the famous (or infamous) "Dord Dictionary," the lexicographical equivalent of the Wicked Bible.

Andy with his copy of Webster's New International Unabridged Dictionary, 2nd Edition
Want to prove you're as nerdy as I am? You can start by buying this T-shirt at my shop.

That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the inclusion of the "ghost word" dord in this dictionary is why I love it so. It serves as a reminder to me, both as an editor and as a human being, that none of us are infallible, even those we call authorities and experts. All people are people, and all people make mistakes.

And the world doesn't end when those little mistakes happen. English didn't collapse because dord appeared in this dictionary, I'm not a terrible editor because I let one stray apostrophe slip through in 25,000 words of text, and you aren't a horrible person because you accidentally typed your when you meant you're in the comment you're going to leave below.

SOAPBOX: And that's one of the things that bugs me about political campaigns. Candidates are afraid to admit their mistakes because voters expect their elected officials to be infallible, superhuman. The way some voters speak about their candidates and their political enemies, it feels like we're not so much electing a new president as we are choosing a new Jesus Christ — only it's the loser who gets crucified. -SOAPBOX OVER-

But anyway, happy Dictionary Day! What's your favorite dictionary and why?