Thursday, June 12, 2003

This morning before I went to work I was reading Simon Winchester's The Professor and the Madman, about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary, and got so involved that I was late for work and spent the whole morning looking forward to coming home and finishing the book. It was a nice feeling, and one that I haven't felt for a while.Though Winchester's style is a bit pedantic, it could hardly have been otherwise with such a subject, and actually makes the book even more interesting. Besides getting a vocabulary booster, I was reminded how impossible we would find life without dictionaries. Just imagine, Shakespeare had no idea if he was using words correctly, and no way of finding out; of course, that's probably partly why he made so many up. It's beyond my comprehension to live in a place and time where no standard for language exists. Okay, so I'm easily amazed, but what a blessing for us that philologists not only recognized but filled this great need.

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