Friday, August 12, 2005


I was so happy to see this article on about the release of the latest Webster's New World College Dictionary. Could this be? An article in the popular press with no hand-wringing from English major types about how the langauge was going to hell and quotes from real linguists to boot? I'm in heaven.

"Language encodes cultural properties," said David W. Lightfoot, assistant director of the National Science Foundation and former linguistics professor and dean at Georgetown University. He said a key function of a dictionary is explaining words and phrases bubbling up through the culture.

"You don't need dictionaries to tell you the meanings of words you know," Lightfoot said. "You're looking up words that are not part of your experience and which encode this more or less exotic information."

You mean the dictionary doesn't lay down the law on what words are acceptable in the language?

1 comment:

Victor Laszlo said...

Yeah, hand-wringing English major types all deserve wedgies!

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