Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Vocabulary Geek: Digital Dictionaries

I am a big fan of the family's hardcover version of the OED, but there are some cool features to the new world of electronic and online dictionaries that are springing up all around us. Some of the best new applications, of course, are things like the Online (or CD-Rom) Oxford English Dictionary, which mean that one does not have to cart around a gigantic volume.
Oxford English Dictionary: 20 vol. print set & CD ROM The Compact Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary, Complete Text Reproduced Micrographically (in slipcase with reading glass) (v. 1-20)
Of course with the digital age there are myriad free dictionaries online, both tratitional and specialty, and even those for the purpose of understanding slang and euphemisms, like Urban Dictionary. The ones that stand out to me are the ones that provide something new, yet preserve the love of language inherent in a dictionary. For example, the Kindle has integrated the dictionary into all kindle documents (including those downloaded from places like Project Gutenberg) so that one can simply look up a word while reading. The Kindle comes standard with the The New Oxford American Dictionary, but this can be replaced by buying another dictionary, such as the Kindle OED, and reading the Kindle manual for instructions. It can also be replaced by a dictionary in another language if that is your primary reading language. On the newest version of the Kindle (Kindle 3), even PDF documents allow for dictionary look-up.  Unfortunately this feature cannot be employed at the same time as the text-to-speech feature, but that may be solved in later versions.

What caught my eye this morning was a new (or at least new to me) feature on Meriam-Webster's website. The dictionary takes statistics from those who view the website in order to see what words are "trending" and then people on staff try to account for that trend based on recent events. Three examples from the recent week are the words: mercurial, tawdry, and vitriol. I thought this was a fabulous way to connect news, the unique platform that websites have to check statistics, and fun English vocabulary.

1 comment:

  1. I love the 'word trend' feature...that would be great for your SAT students!