Erin McKean redefines the Dictionary – From

An excellent lecture on lexicography by Erin McKean, emailed to me by my friend Lauren, who is jealous of Ms McKean’s occupation and fashion sense.

Story: This past Christmas, I asked my parents for something special: an electronic dictionary. For some reason or another, I’ve been loving looking up words I don’t understand. As I read my texts last Fall, I began to go to my computer’s dictionary often, out of curiosity. ‘What EXACTLY does this word mean?’ Or if I was writing, I’d often wonder the same question, along with doubting my spelling skills more often.

Thoughts: I love McKean’s idea of the next phase of “the dictionary”. Instead of being a symbol of the English language, like the US flag is a symbol of the country, the next way of doing the dictionary would make the paper dictionaries nearly obsolete! We would find almost EVERY word used in this new dictionary, with context and numerous definitions. An electronic dictionary isn’t much more helpful than a paper one. An expanded, hyper-linked, contextualized dictionary would be so much more awesome. Like McKean, I find words all the time that aren’t in the New Oxford American Dictionary on my Mac or in the Merriam-Webster on my Franklin electronic dictionary or on the application on my phone. Lexicographers must begin collecting these words, and not just Wikipedia.

I wish I listened to TED lectures more often…

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