Death of the Dictionary

Are paper-based dictionaries dead? Do you still have one on your shelf or do you hit the online dictionaries instead, with a plethora of offerings in response to your search?

I may be out of step with emerging trends, but I still like to pick up my dictionary and rifle through it. I should say ‘one of my dictionaries’ as I have a choice of three. I often research a word, making sure not just of the correct spelling but the correct context. I will find myself using a not-so-common word in my writing and suddenly pull myself up short thinking ‘Hold on – where did that word come from? Am I using it correctly or do I just think I am?’ These words obviously spring from a subconscious memory based on past reading and tend to surprise me when they surface again.

I do use the online dictionaries as well, but I like exploring the associations and derivations of the word and possible uses, all the while flipping through the pages. I like the immediacy that the book offers (don’t have to be logged on) and like to feel the weight of it in my hands and the sound of the pages turning.

Probably where I use the online facilities the most is when looking for a synonym. It can be so quick to do a right click on the word and pull up a range of options – click on the best alternative and you are on your way, with only a second or so interruption. OK – so I so use online spell-checkers too (so convenient, except for the American spelling) but I’m not ready to put the dictionaries or the thesaurus’ out to pasture yet.

Final Words

Aside

Working tonight on the text for a funeral ceremony that I will deliver on Friday.  Just a small family group, perhaps about eight people, unless some old army mates manage to come.  It is always a challenge to sum up a life in a few pages and to capture the essence of a person such that the mourners feel that you have done justice to their friend or relative.  Makes you consider also the measure of a life – is it what one has achieved, what one has amassed, or who one leaves behind?

Makes me wonder what I will be remembered for.  Sometimes, putting the wording together is like pulling hens’ teeth although it always works out in the end.  I will probably get up early in the morning to edit what I have written and to put the finishing touches.  I am a morning person and so write with more clarity and purpose at that time.  He was an Elvis fan, so I will finish off with ‘Return to Sender’.