koralleen (koralleen) wrote,

old news

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.

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