an in-between move
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Notes on lexicograblogging
- Several readers have requested that the lexicograblogging entries be expanded to include a pronunciation key. I don't do this mostly because I don't have the slightest idea how to render phonetic symbols on a webpage. While I could probably figure it out (see my fancy new bullets?), marking up the html seems like more trouble than it's worth.
- I always tell my students that one of the best ways to improve their chances of getting a good score on standardized tests like the G.R.E. is to look up lots of words, even words that they think they know.
- I use a number of sources, but my first stop online is most often dictionary.com. Their definitions are usually clear, and the site is fast and simple. Merriam-Webster is fancier and a little more powerful, but for equivalent definitions I generally prefer dictionary.com's phrasing. Depending on the word, I might or might not check the O.E.D. online. It's an awesome dictionary, but using it requires signing on to the university library's proxy server and that's kind of a pain in the ass.
- My main physical dictionary is a beaten up Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language. It's the deluxe color edition of the second college edition. Back in the day I used it as a tripping dictionary, so it's got all kinds of odd stuff tucked among the pages. I've also got a Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary for the bedroom and a paperback Webster's that I sometimes carry around.
- Lexicograblogging is a direct outgrowth of an argument I lost about ten years ago. My position was that I was smart enough to figure out the meaning of words from context. My interlocutor's position was that thinking something like that showed how stupid I really was.
- One of the reasons that vocabularies are philosophically interesting is that our ability to conceptualize the world is dependent on the symbolic resources at our disposal. Right now I'm listening to a Dexter Gordon record, but because I lack a technical musical vocabulary I can't tell you much about it. Moreover, my lack of an adequate vocabulary means that my experience of the music doesn't include a lot of the complexity that would be available to me if I could do things like identify appoggiaturas.
- The word lexicography is derived from two greek roots, lexikos meaning of or concerned with words and graphia, a verb meaning to write. Strictly speaking, then, I really ought to call the practice lexicoblogging (or maybe lexicographoblogging), but I think you'll agree that lexicograblogging sounds better. Something similar could be said about philosoblogging.
+ - + - + main + - + - +