Tuesday, October 27, 2009

OED: An Affair to Remember.

It has been a few days so I have to write something. I really don't have time at the moment; I really should be studying Russian right now--no really, I have a class. I find that if I don't write I hear the siren call of the blog, all day, and nothing will silence it but writing something. Unfortunately, even if it is a crappy something I feel a little better. Yes, I am writing for writing's sake.

You know, several times I have wondered whether or not I am suffering from hypergraphia. Hypergraphia is an uncommonly strong urge to write, by the way. I wish I had a better definition, but the OED doesn't have an entry for this word, and it's driving me crazy. This is the first time in a long time that the OED has let me down. She has enriched my world, the OED, but I must admit that I am disappointed today--left wanting. You may not know this about me, but I anthropomorphize dictionaries. One of my dear friends is a dictionary that I bought in 1998; it was the first dictionary I ever bought. It is a red-covered Webster's dictionary, and his name is Winston. I really don't know why that is his name--it is almost as if he told me. I used to highlight words in it, and I aspired to have several highlighted words on each page. Eventually, I wanted to know them all, of course. But as it is now, there is probably only an average of one highlight per page.

Winston and I haven't been as close lately--for the past couple of years actually--we haven't hung out as much. And I must confess that it began when I met the OED online. I had heard about the OED for years, and her lexical prowess, but I had never actually seen her printed words or smelled her pages. (I really love the smell of books, by the way--even the old ones) Then one day, someone told me that through my university's web-site I could access her for free. I was hesitant at first, as I generally preferred something more tangible--something I could hold in my hands to read, but out of curiosity I checked it out. And I ended up spending several hours that day feasting upon etymology. Oh, the examples, so many examples--all the way back to Middle-English it seemed, and even some contemporary references.

However, I must admit that, these days, I am even shamelessly neglectful of her. Hey, life's busy--it's not like she ever calls me. It is really this blog that has helped me to reconnect. Poor old Winston though, I'm afraid I will never spend the kind of time with him that I once did. Obviously, he hasn't been able to add any words in over a decade, and his etymological notes are never anything more that stepping stone for me. We were real pals once. I came to him for advice, and trusted his every word. He still knows more than I do, obviously--and I still look stuff up in him on occasion. We have a laugh now and again. He's still my buddy, even though the OED has come between us.

Well, OED, I will still come to you often, but I have to tell you--Wikipedia was the only good source today for "hypergraphia". In the words of my friend KP (not a dictionary)--you are going to have to bring your 'A' game in the future.


  1. Did you know there's an OED-based thesaurus?


    If only I had 300 extra bucks hanging around...

  2. Well now, there is yet one more thing that I will be adding to my Christmas list that I am not actually going to get. Someday though, that 300 bucks and I will meet--and, then I'll... probably pay bills with it. If you happen to find 300 Ben Franklins hanging around, you'll have to tell me how good the thesaurus is. Thanks for the heads up.

  3. Cort and Kathy,

    A historical thesaurus is more properly termed a "dinosaurus." Should you ever win one, in, say, a game of high-stakes poker with some ultra-nerdy hustlers, you should remember that, so that you can give your dinosaurus a fitting name--like Pat, short for "Apatosaurus" the alternate name of the "Brontesaurus" back when the Bronte sisters (for whom the Brontesaurus, incidentally, is named) had fallen out of fashion. But I digress...

    Where was I?