Wednesday, February 21, 2007


“Words -- so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” - Nathaniel Hawthorne

Okay... show of hands: how many of you read the dictionary?

I'm not the only one, right?

Yesterday, during DD's history lesson, we learned that it took Noah Webster TWENTY YEARS to write the first dictionary. He studied a dozen foreign languages and agonized over spelling. He's the one who gave us "jail" instead of "gaol" and "plow" instead of "plough".

But, sheesh -- TWENTY YEARS? That is some respect for words. It's a shame that folks don't feel the same nowadays.

Can I admit to being horrified at all the internet (and text messaging) slang? I use it now and then (because LOL tells exactly how I'm feeling, and DD allows my little one to remain anonymous with as few letters as possible). But I hate the acronyms that adulterate the correct spellings: cya, ur, etc. I even read somewhere that teachers are now accepting those spellings on tests! YIKES!!

If I thought Shakespeare was hard to understand when I was a kid and *mostly* spoke and spelled English properly, how on earth will the next generation feel? Or, worse... will they care?

My daughter, who is a voracious reader, was constantly asking "what does (insert word here) mean?" I finally got her a dictionary of her very own.

She's seven years-old.

Yesterday, she ran down to the basement and said, "Mom, what does 'griddle' mean? I looked it up in your dictionary and mine and can't find it."

Turns out she'd spelled it "grittle" and hasn't quite learned that whole seek until you find thing, but I'm working on it. Still, instead of telling her that a griddle is a type of frying pan, I helped her look it up.

I hope I have passed my love of words to her. I think I have.

Many days, I'll find her in her room, lying on her stomach on the floor. Reading the dictionary.


Allie Boniface said...

Do you remember the scene from "Say Anything" where John Cusack looks at Ione Skye's dictionary on their first date and more tha half the words are marked because she's looked so many up? Great moment.

And by the way, I still do that with my students. They're in 12th grade.

Judy said...

No, you aren't alone. And my children swear the first words out of my mouth whenever they asked me ANYTHING was "look it up." :-) But, they are all avid readers and great spellers. We all know already what I think of the latest trends toward reading and writing!

Ceri said...

Good for you and your daughter! My 10 yr old has become an avid reader finally and she's beginning to write as well. Buying a dictionary for her is an excellent idea.

I cringe when I see those cyu l8r words. Unfortunately if teachers are accepting them on kids works I think we're doomed to have them around forever.