Erin McKean’s TED Talk “ The Joy of Lexicography” was interesting and funny. Erin made some good points on how the dictionary has changed. I remember having to buy a dictionary for school in the past. It was pretty easy to use. Looked up the words and didn’t have problems with it. I never really used everything that a dictionary had. Dictionaries used to be books that people would rely on all the time. With technology today, the use of a paper dictionary seems to be disappearing. I have not used a paper dictionary in such a long time. I have a phone and a computer that if I need to look up a definition or a thesaurus I can do it in the palm of my hand. It seems more words have been created that you see on the internet then actual paper dictionaries. Words like Google I learned in my linguistics class. This word has been around for long. It’s interesting to notice how much my vocabulary has grown.
Erin uses the metaphor of wanting to be a fisherman instead of a traffic cop in her Ted Talk. She explains that she doesn’t want to be the one who decides what words are good and keeps bad words out of a dictionary. She said that she blamed Queen Victoria because a lot of the old english dictionaries now never changed. Being a fisherman would be so much more fun for her because she could go in and find any and all unique words she could learn. Throwing that net in the ocean and learning different words and how they come together good or bad would make English fun.
She also uses the topic of the hambutt problem. That was a funny analogy. Basically, it explained to me that there are so many words out there and printed dictionaries only have so much room, not all words make it. She said get a bigger pan. It was a great analogy. I never looked at things that way. We are constantly learning new stuff, maybe that is why the internet was created.
I agree that words are tools for expressing, and every word should have a valid meaning. The same is true in slang words. Although no words are clearly evil, some words catch on and get common and others die away. Because so many people are studying the language, restricting its growth in a way that makes it universal and open to non-natives is very important. She also made it clear that as long as people are using a word, it’s a word.