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What am I noting today?

October 16, 2018

Today is Dictionary Day – the birthday of Noah Webster in 1758.

“A lexicographer’s business is solely to collect, arrange, and define the words that usage presents to his hands. He has no right to proscribe words; he is to present them as they are.” ~ Noah Webster

In 1807 Webster began compiling a fully comprehensive dictionary, An American Dictionary of the English Language; it took twenty-eight years to complete. To evaluate the etymology of words, Webster learned twenty-six languages, including Old English (Anglo-Saxon), Greek, Hebrew and Latin.

Hawkeye Pierce, on M*A*S*H was once asked what book he would take if he were stranded on a desert island.  He replied, “A dictionary.  Pretty much all the other books are in that one.”

Webster completed his dictionary during his year abroad in 1825 in Paris, France, and at the University of Cambridge. His book contained seventy thousand words, of which twelve thousand had never appeared in a published dictionary before. As a spelling reformer, Webster believed that English spelling rules were unnecessarily complex, so his dictionary introduced American English spellings, replacing colour with color, substituting wagon for waggon, and printing center instead of centre. He also added American words, like skunk and squash, that did not appear in British dictionaries. At the age of seventy, Webster published his dictionary in 1828, registering the copyright on April 14. Webster did all this in an effort to standardize the American language.

Taken from Webster’s Dictionary

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