Thursday, August 21


My friend Nurri insists that I am fascinated by systems (which is true.) I am truly fascinated by determining patterns and mapping out paths of abstract ideas. Most of my recent work has involved close examination of language, and although I'll probably never be more than a fan, I do find myself reading about it as much as possible (I have not completely ruled out a PhD in Linguistics if I choose to stay in NYC for awhile.) One of the worst books I've read was about the history of the Oxford English Dictionary, and despite the poor writing, the historical facts are fascinating. Until the OED was begun by the Philological Society of London in 1857, English was one of the last European languages to try to establish a standardization. If you consider that a dictionary by definition (funny) is a book of alphabetically listed words in a specific language, and requires definitions, etymologies, pronunciations, and other information, this was no small task to accomplish. One of the most interesting things about the process of getting all this information was that it was achieved by going out to the public and asking them to read books and find the information about words from their context. Imagine a paper form of a wiki (floorboards had to be reinforced to accommodate the weight of all the papers sent back with word definitions.) The final "facsicle" was published in 1928, about 70 years after the project had begun. Being that all languages are living, the dictionary has also had to evolve to accommodate changes in the use of English (consider text messaging: bastardization or alternate spelling?) Well, I suppose with the proliferation of slang terms appearing both as spoken and spelled, alternate sources of information are necessary to jack in to that kind of thumb lashing. (If you still have are curious, visit Baragona's for more.)

No comments: