The glamorous life of the lexicographer

For one thing, there’s that whole business about how “glamour” seems to lose its U when the “-ous” suffix is hung on it. And remarkably, this is not the stuff of daydreams:

Let’s be perfectly clear here: all the glamour and intrigue that most people attach to lexicography is a fiction. Samuel Johnson, in his great dictionary of 1755, defined “lexicographer” as “a writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge,” and he is not lying. My day consists of sifting through citations of words in context and puzzling over how to succinctly describe the glob of dust and crud that makes up a dust bunny. (I settled on “aggregate.”) Lexicographers do not sit in sleek conference rooms and make your language. That’s what you — the reading, writing, speaking public — do. Language is democratic, not oligarchic. That’s where the real glamour is.

L’Académie Française might beg to differ, but unlike the sons and daughters of Webster, they actually seek to make the language. Sometimes they even succeed.

(Via this tweet by the authoritatively glamorous [or was that “glamorously authoritative”?] Nancy Friedman.)

1 comment

  1. Wayne McEvilly »

    20 December 2011 · 7:19 am

    Worth the bother of coming around the corner and opening the door to read -Wayne

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