Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dictonary Day

From  Today when we spell the word "color" instead of "colour" we can thank a crotchety, humorless man for saving wear on our fingers, not to mention savings on paper and those obscenely expensive inkjet printer cartridges. Oct 16 marks the 250th birth anniversary of Noah Webster (1758-1843), lexicographer extraordinaire, who compiled the American Dictionary of the English Language (1828), the first authoritative lexicon of American English.

Webster believed in establishing cultural independence from Britain and as such he emphasized a distinct American spelling and pronunciation. His dictionary listed various unusual and shortened spellings of words. He would hardly have imagined how the tide would turn one day. According to reports, more British children today spell "color" instead of "colour", for example. Webster's suggestion of using "tung" instead of "tongue" didn't stick, though.

Today Webster's name is synonymous with dictionaries and the date of his birth is observed as Dictionary Day.

If you're interested in learning more about words, or improving your vocabulary sign up for Wordsmith's daily email.

1 comment:

Jientje said...

I have this thing with dictionaries, well of course I do need them quite a lot, so I found it interesting enough to subscribe to this "a word a day" . I'm now looking forward to learn a new word every day! Thanks!

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