The Living, Breathing, Changing Dictionary
Hold onto your hats. It’s time to read the dictionary!
While it’s not the briefest read, the dictionary has everything you need for a killer story and the conversation that follows. It’s easy to think of the dictionary as an absolute bible of vocabulary, but that would be a limited way of using it. There are, in fact, words that it does not contain. Language is a living thing. It evolves. It grows. It reflects the society that is using it and therefore must adapt to serve its users. English is especially illogical language, the result of its many cross-breedings throughout history. Naturally, when words from the modern vernacular get added, the public will have something to say about it.
In a recent episode of Fresh Air, Merriam-Webster lexicographer Kory Stamper discusses the process of adding words to the dictionary, and the feedback she received from confused and even disgruntled users. She also talks about how American English as we know it is not in fact proper English, but a representation of the spoken English we first learn as children, itself an informal, conversational version of the more formal written language code. Not all of those rules that you learned in school apply; you can, in fact, end a sentence with a preposition if you want to. 🙂
I can’t recommend this interview enough. It’s informative and helpful, especially if you struggle with elements of language. (Who doesn’t!) It’s perfect to listen to while cooking or doing your spring cleaning, too. Enjoy!