The Dictionary Project

24 Jul

I am a Word Geek. I assume most writers likely are too; although I don’t yet know any writers outside the blogging world to ask.

What is a word geek exactly? Well, if you want to get technical, a Word Geek would be a Logophile; ‘Logos’ meaning ‘word’ or ‘reason’ and ‘-philia’ originally meant ‘love’ but in modern usage translates to something much more akin to  ‘geek’.

And I know that isn’t much of a description so far, so here’s something better: I love words. I love the nuance of words. I love knowing just the right word for the moment. I love the discovery of a new word, or another facet of a familiar one. I love reading words I don’t know. I love sudoku.

This is a Word Geek! You may think that last one is unrelated, but I would argue against it. You see, sudoku, while numeric based, is really a game of patterns and placement – so to, are words. If it makes you feel more comfortable with the connection, swap out the numbers 1 through 9 and replace them with A through I.

I don’t congregate with other Logophiles, but when I read, I do keep a blank sheet of paper, folded up, alongside my bookmark (or use it as my bookmark) so I can write down new words I encounter.

And now I have a new project.  I have had a crazy idea stewing in my subconscious for years, occasionally bubbling into my thoughts – only to be pushed back down again as unmanageable and outrageous. But, as I age and better understand myself, I’ve become aware that: A. I love crazy unmanageable ideas, situations and encounters and tend to perform well the more stressful the situation B. If the same thought, wish or desire keeps occurring to you, over a long period of time – you should embrace it!

So my new project is this: Read the dictionary.

… and not as in: a casual perusal. But rather: to digest and understand; to broaden my vocabulary and grasp of meaning; to study and learn.

I will attempt to consume 1 page per day, although I expect to read less in the beginning.  I have a number of dictionaries (as a Word Geek, Dictionaries are among the items I enjoy collecting) but there are 3 I tend to use the most and my goal is to read my daily page from each. These three dictionaries are:

  • Gage Canadian Dictionary – published in the 90′s
  • Collins English Dictionary – published in the 80′s
  • The New Century Dictionary – published by Collier in 3 volumes in the 40′s

Of course, these 3 dictionaries do not contain quite the same word count, so my definition of a page will be somewhat loose. Regardless, I will read 1 page a day, all entries from all 3 dictionaries (this is a minimum – I may reference other sources) and I will be recording anything that appears of interest to me. Words of interest will primarily be:

  • New words
  • Known words with a previously unknown meaning

Reading the dictionary…

…A simple thing to say – deceptively straightforward to write.

And I, before beginning, predict: Elephantine to accomplish.

Wish me luck!


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