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Last Wednesday V and I planed, trained, automobiled, and bused to take in a Backstreet Boys Concert at Wolf Trap in Virginia. Jennifer and Chris's girlfriend came along and most of the crowd was about their ages--predominantly twenty-somethings, with a few dozen men amidst the thousands of women. Victoria was the biggest fan, though. For the first part of the concert, J and I took turns holding her up so she could see. She belted out every word to every song. Too many dancers and not enough banjos for me, but I still had fun. Thursday we did repair and maintenance work around the house and we drove back to Columbus the next day.

vvalkyri posted a link to an issue from a while back, that of the entries in the Oxford Junior Dictionary winnowed in favor of contemporary terms. Her source expresses outrage at the dropped "nature" words; I had read about it in an article expressing concern that words central to British history and religious culture were being expunged. Even though I love words and books these omissions did not strike me as a very big deal.

It's a tough job to write a dictionary with only 10,000 English words--an arbitrary limit Oxford imposes upon themselves to keep the book a manageable size. No one will dispute the fact that OUP produces a comprehensive dictionary product, but this is not it. When ivy and aisle yield to celebrity and dyslexic I might cringe but I know the purpose of the book is to teach kids how to use a dictionary. Unfortunately, this book isn't the best of its kind; however, the selection of words is not its great shortcoming.

I'm not crazy about the way the head words are centered at the top of each page, but I realize that's a matter of style. The shocking omission is the pronunciation of each entry. What is up with that?! I would suggest the Merriam-Webster Children's Dictionary published by DK to new dictionary users. Its size is more intimidating, with over three times the entries included in the Oxford dictionary, but the format is both sophisticated and accessible. The illustrations are great, too.

I do wonder how useful the traditional dictionary skills will be as digital references become more available. I used to think that having my own OED would be a glorious luxury, but since the online version came about I prefer that. For access, I thank the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

Whenever I travel back to Columbus from Takoma Park I feel a little wistful about leaving the easy public transportation, the familiar spots, and my friends. But I am always thrilled to return to the uncrowded roads, the intrigue of unexplored places, and the excellent libraries. I guess it's good that I don't have to choose between the two places yet.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
whimmydiddle
Jun. 14th, 2010 06:37 am (UTC)
I never use anything but onelook.com anymore.
koralleen
Jun. 14th, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC)
It is awesome, I agree. The wildcard search! It's like catnip for wordies.
aramintamd
Jun. 14th, 2010 11:35 am (UTC)
I'm truly sorry we missed you on this visit. The alternative activity was necessary but oh, so much less productive.

We're heading your way sometime around the end of July (best guess is the 26th, though that date could revise backward a bit). We need to be back here the 8th or 9th. What's your calendar look like around then?
koralleen
Jun. 14th, 2010 04:03 pm (UTC)
Not good! We're still going to be on our southerly sojourn throughout that whole period, although we might be in Maryland when you get back--I think Brian is supposed to be in Herndon the week ending on August 8. Then we're heading south again. We don't have a definite return date for Columbus, but it will probably be around the last week in August.
(Anonymous)
Jun. 14th, 2010 05:52 pm (UTC)
Oh, sadness!

We'll plan on camping closer to Wheeling, then, and in Indianapolis at Kathryn's house after that. In theory we get back to MD soil NLT August 9, because the girls are in camp then.

School starts the 23rd.

Let me know if anything changes. We're heading north to Mt. Rushmore this time.
lavidamd
Jun. 14th, 2010 12:40 pm (UTC)
I've always been a fan of the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Glad to see you recommending it.

It's funny to read that you visited this area partially to go to Wolf Trap. I like that venue but often think to myself that it is so far away from Beltsville! :)
koralleen
Jun. 14th, 2010 04:12 pm (UTC)
Did you know there's a bus from the West Falls Church metro stop that takes you right to the park? When you don't have to drive, it makes the distance less onerous. It is a great venue, but Jennifer's co-workers were telling her that they only booked music for old people, which is kind of true. Fine with me, I'm not getting any younger...
vvalkyri
Jun. 14th, 2010 03:19 pm (UTC)
I have some sympathy for the argument that kids probably know what a blog or voicemail is, while they might not know what some of those other words are, and that once you're using a paper dictionary you might as well go more to the slightly less ubiquitous, as useful stuff can be instantly looked up on line anyway.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )