What's in a Word?

  • November 29, -0001
I have always greeted new editions of dictionaries with mixed emotions. On the one hand, it's interesting to discover new words that have been incorporated into the English language, and some old ones that are allowed to drop. On the other hand, I can't help but fret a bit about the inflation of vocabulary and the dilution of language, especially given the deconstructionist, wikkipedia mood of the times. So I'm a bit double-minded to read, in the fall, 2008 issue of The Wilson Quarterly, that the third edition of The Oxford English Dictionary will only be available online. A print edition is apparently not in the offing for now. Charlotte Brewer sees many good things about the OED online - search capabilities and so forth - and I take her point. But she is also enthusiastic about the ease with which the OED online can be updated, revised, or expanded as the editors see fit. Now I'm really getting nervous, thinking about the world's greatest dictionary becoming a wikki of some sort, and the native tongue ultimately degenerating into a verbal free-for-all. Words have solidity; they carry meanings, preserve truth,