Saturday, February 03, 2007

CED – complete and unabridged*

On Monday I spent something like ten minutes googling the word ‘communion’. In my head I had this idea that there were various other meanings that did not involve a wafer thin host. Despite this certainty Google was not initially forthcoming. And then it slapped me in the face: I don’t have a dictionary. What sort of writer doesn’t have a dictionary? I used to have a dictionary, or rather I lived in a house where there was a dictionary and when I left that house the dictionary sort of accidentally on purpose ended up in my boxes. The only problem with that little ploy was that when I needed somewhere to store my stuff when I moved to Mexico, I used the same house that I had pilfered the dictionary from in the first place. I was left with no choice but to return it to its rightful owner. Then as I may have mentioned before I moved eight times and on seven of those occasions there was always a dictionary in the house, as well as a BIG Spanish-English dictionary and a BIG French-English dictionary, but no BIG English dictionary and recently before my eighth move no dictionary at all and it didn’t seem a problem until Monday night.

So how do you choose a dictionary? The first decision involves deciding where to buy it. I didn’t want to turn up at home with a huge tome and discover I had accidentally bought a US English Dictionary. To limit the probability of that event I decided to go to the hugely over-priced WHSmiths on rue de Rivoli. I thought it would be hard to focus on buying the dictionary and I would get distracted by all the millions of fictional words around me. I was distracted until I turned them over and the 19€ price tag brought me crashing back to reality. So having wended my way to the little room where all things Englishy may be found I discovered that I didn’t really have that big a decision to make: Collins or Oxford English Dictionary. Oh, I had kind of hoped I would have a little more choice to make.

So I pulled the display copies off the shelf and read the definition of communion in both: communion 1 an exhange of thoughts, emotions, etc. 2 possessing or sharing in common; participation 3 (foll by with) emotional or spiritual feelings (for):communion with nature. And then we get onto the religious definitions... Yep, I was definitely communing with this dictionary. The Oxford definition left me cold. But was one word enough to clinch it? So, I turned to the word I once thought I had invented: tootles. Tootle 1 to go, esp by car. Mmm, Oxford mentioned in a lesiurely manner which fit in more with my definition that to tootle was to do so in a Pooh bear state of wandering. But then I found toodle-pip in the Collins and I decided that actually the definition of communion was more important than a word I had defined years ago.

And now that I have the nearly 2000 page tome propped open beside me I’m finding out all sort of stuff, like did you know that ‘butters’ is British slang for very ugly? Or that drink-dialling is the inadvisable practice of making a phone-call while drunk?

* although I was tempted to call this post milf!

11 comments:

Marie said...

I've got a big hardback Oxford English Dictionary and a couple of pocket-sized ones.

DBA Lehane said...

My problem is I am addicted to buying dictionaries and the like! I have at least 4 English dictionaries (ranging from a pocket sized one up to a hardback unabridged one), various Thesaurus', a dictionary of slang, a dictionary of gangster speak, two reverse dictionaries, a dictionary of euphemisms and a dictionary of appropriate adjectives. Don't even get me started on different encyclopedias! Not sure, though, I have a MILF encyclopedia though! ;)

Anyhow...thanks for stopping by!

DBA Lehane said...

Oh...I also forgot a dictionary of surnames, a dictionary of first names, a dictionary of idioms, two rhyming dictionaries and three dictionaries of proverbs! No wonder my bank manager is always writing! :)

Verilion said...

So DBA, perhaps I should just get in touch with you next time I'm unsure of a word instead of googling. I was a bit tempted by the dictionary of Myth and Legends on Saturday, but the dictionary weighed a ton, I had my gym bag with me and I needed to go grocery shopping as well...
And you seriously have a MILF encyclopedia???

Debi said...

Ah yes, butters - the opposite of buff.

You need to have children of a certain age to keep up with this stuff. Or a dictionary I suppose ...

Verilion said...

Hi Debi, I've signed up for a word a day. So I'm expecting my vocabulary to enlarge EVERYDAY!

Atyllah said...

Pooh doesn't tootle, not ever, he poohtles.
I know someone who started reading a dictionary from A - I'm not sure if she ever finished it. Hope you fare better, V!

Verilion said...

You are absolutely right Atyllah; however, the Collins English dictionary spells it POOTLES, sans the h. Gosh language gets so confusing sometimes...

Minx said...

Sort of weird that you didn't have one. Sort of cool that you're so excited.

And yes, within arms reach I have dictionary (4), thesaurus, quotes (5), names (2),and a host of yearbooks and handbooks. These of course are not counting the reams of links to refs in me computer. Does it help? Probably not.

Susan Abraham said...

Verillion.

hello again after a long time. :-)
I carry just one Oxford technical dictionary - it has picture detailing of hundreds of objects & buildings - a picture dictionary if you like, for use in my writing.
I have dictionary software in my laptop though I always google the Free Online Dict... which is very good.
I have also bookmarked a handy online thesaurus. So everything's on the net for me these days.

Happy Writing.:-)

Verilion said...

It is weird isn't it Minx. You see ... (convoluted route back to fave subject of the moment). That's kind of what I'm really liking about Flash Fiction and poetry. A colleague summed it up today when he said: "Every word matters..." so you have to use the right ones. I guess this is all part of the learning curve hey. So now I have to go and hunt for a word so that I can have a title for my Moon Topples entry. Hope you've all entered.

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