Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Words and writing ...

I came across an amazing blog entry today. I love reading and writing. When writing, I try to communicate my thoughts in a (hopefully) clear and entertaining manner. I often use dictionaries and thesauri to get ideas for new and different words, to spice up my paragraphs when they seem dull.

But, after reading the blog entry from James Somers, "You're probably using the wrong dictionary", I know that I have been fooled ("deceived; imposed upon") by my current tools.

Mr. Somers' blog discusses how Webster came to create the first dictionary, how John McPhee uses Webster's dictionary when creating his fourth draft of a work, and how dictionaries could come to inspire thought and writing. I know that you don't believe me on that last point ... so go check out The ARTFL Project (Webster's Dictionary, 1913 and 1828 editions). Enter any word that comes to mind and see what you find.

Here is my example, I entered the word, car (trying for a word that was mundane). Here is the text from the 1828 edition ...
1. A small vehicle moved on wheels; usually, one having but two wheels and drawn by one horse; a cart.
2. A vehicle adapted to the rails of a railroad. [U. S.] &hand; In England a railroad passenger car is called a railway carriage; a freight car a goods wagon; a platform car a goods truck; a baggage car a van. But styles of car introduced into England from America are called cars; as, tram car. Pullman car. See Train.
3. A chariot of war or of triumph; a vehicle of splendor, dignity, or solemnity. [Poetic].
   The gilded car of day. Milton.
   The towering car, the sable steeds. Tennyson.
4. (Astron.) The stars also called Charles's Wain, the Great Bear, or the Dipper.
   The Pleiads, Hyads, and the Northern Car. Dryden.
5. The cage of a lift or elevator.
6. The basket, box, or cage suspended from a ballon to contain passengers, ballast, etc.
7. A floating perforated box for living fish.

[U. S.] Car coupling, or Car coupler, a shackle or other device for connecting the cars in a railway train. [U. S.] -- Dummy car (Railroad), a car containing its own steam power or locomotive. -- Freight car (Railrood), a car for the transportation of merchandise or other goods. [U. S.] -- Hand car (Railroad), a small car propelled by hand, used by railroad laborers, etc. [U. S.] -- Horse car, or Street car, an ommibus car, draw by horses or other power upon rails laid in the streets. [U. S.] -- Mcol>Palace car, Drawing-room car, Sleeping car, Parior caretc. , (Railroad), cars especially designed and furnished for the comfort of travelers.
I was blown away! Webster's 1828 and 1913 dictionaries will become my new source of words (admittedly, not modern, but definitely poetic). Mr. Somers explains how you can download and install the 1913 edition, and use it in conjunction with your other dictionaries on your Mac, Kindle and iPad. That upgrade of my dictionaries is underway as I type.


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