If you love reading and book, there’s a slightly better than average chance that you also love words and dictionaries. The wordage passion usually goes hand-in-hand, even if you do steer away from the more academic applications of that exploration.

If you’re a word geek, you also have got to appreciate the gravity and importance of having a job as “editor” at Merriam-Webster Dictionary. And, you’re probably not surprised at all that Kory Stamper would be inspired to write: Word By Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries.

After all, the history of dictionaries in America is long and fascinating. Daniel Webster published his first dictionary, as A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, in 1908, and the G & C Merriam Co. took it from there when it bought rights to An American Dictionary of the English Language in 1843.

An Affair With Words?

You may love dictionaries, or you may hate them, depending on the level of complexity in your war of words. But, Stamper explains: “I wanted to give people an idea of how the dictionary works because you do this long enough and it’s the same questions over and over again.”

Yes, words and the English language are constantly evolving. And, yes, the nature of words and language has changed in the “age of Google,” but those realities still do not discount the need and importance of dictionaries (and the comprehensive study of words). As Stamper explains: “I know all this bizarro stuff about the English language that has made me fall in love with it in this new way because I think people who like words also get really frustrated with how illogical English is.”

Beauty of Words

Words may be “bizarro,” but they’re also so beautiful. As we follow the changes in language, we also discover new and fascinating facts (and realities) about who we are and how society itself is in flux. We may not always understand how and why it’s happening, and it may not even matter for most words.

There’s that figment or fragment of curiosity, though. A niggling of truth, or perhaps it’s more of a hint of the larger realities. Perhaps, it’s impossible to define, or it could just be part of the overarching sense of what it is to be part of humanity.

 

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