I am in love with Slate’s list of words David Foster Wallace circled in his dictionary. Circling words would be something I’d do if I still used an old fashioned dictionary. I have a lovely, fat dictionary. It’s one of those “unabridged” numbers, in fact it’s Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary. Sucker weighs like nine pounds and is currently acting as a nice shelf for a bunch of manuscripts that need editing. It lives upstairs in the Fortress of Solitude. It’s entirely too big and bulky to be practical. Plus, well there’s the Internet.
For awhile I’ve longed for an online dictionary that would keep track of all the words I looked up. For awhile I thought I found one. It kept track of all my words and I rejoiced. But then after like a week it forgot all the words, and since then I have forgotten the name of that dictionary. So this year I resolved to write down all the words I look up. This is not the best method for keeping track of the words, but it’s a start.
I look up words for all kinds of reasons. Sure a lot of the time it’s for spelling purposes. But a lot of times it’s definition and not because I don’t know what the word means but I want to know what the subtle nuance is between using that word or some other word I had in mind. Or, I’m checking on some other writer who used the word. You’d be amazed, well probably not, by how many writers use words incorrectly. Like you’ll see annexed on the list here. I saw someone somewhere use it like: I was annexed from something. I don’t know if the writer meant isolated or what. But I had to check myself to make sure there wasn’t some secret hidden meaning before I openly ridiculed the writer in my head.
So yeah. Here’s my list of words. You’ll see that compared to David Foster Wallace I’m a mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging, monosyllabic simpleton.
oblogquy 23 Feb10