Birthday Gift of Fascinating Proportions
For my birthday back in December, my dear husband Zan gave me the coolest gift ever. Some of you may think me odd for finding this gift unbelievably fascinating, but props go to Zan for knowing me well enough to understand that this gift would be a favorite of mine.
A 102 year old dictionary was my gift.
Printed in 1908, it is in outstanding condition considering it’s age, and it is HUGE….approximately six inches thick, covered in deteriorating suede. The printed edging is quite lovely…
Although the name “Webster” is in its title, apparently this is not an authentic Webster’s dictionary. I had difficulty finding any history on this publishing. However the little that I did come across mentions the fact that Webster let his copyright expire, thereby allowing other publishers to “steal” the name and use it in their own adapted versions of his original dictionary.
This publisher, Ogilvie, was one of the guilty parties to this practice. It is now common knowledge in the Dictionary World (wherever that is) that only dictionaries published by Merriam-Websters are bona fide Websters dictionaries. Who knew?
Most fascinating to me is the “Faulty Diction” section whereas upon reading it, do consider myself an inarticulate individual indeed.
Some of my favorite “faults” include the frequent misuse of the term “off of” and the word “nasty.”
And I quote:
“Off of. Always a specimen of redundancy. In ‘a pound of chops off of the loin,’ the ‘of’ is superfluous. In ‘a yard off of a piece of silk,’ either ‘off’ or ‘of’ should be omitted. In ‘Get off of the horse,’ ‘of’ is the sign of an ignorant or vulgar speaker.”
Let’s see what Ogilvie’s dictionary says about “nasty”…..
“Nasty. Offensive to American ears when used in the sense of disagreeable. ‘This word, at best not well suited to dainty lips,’ says White, ‘is of late years shockingly misused by British folk who should be ashamed of such defiled English…..For hardly three other English words are so nearly the same in meaning as dirty, filthy, and nasty: of which the last expresses the greatest offense to all the senses….This slangy misuse of the word is rarely or never heard in the United States.'”
Seriously, I could go on and on. I never knew reading the dictionary could be so entertaining. 🙂