MACHINE - MAP - NATURE - PICTURE - RANDOM - WORD

November 28, 2016

     While searching my dictionary for the correct spelling of wildebeest, I came across the word "willie-waught." Willie-waught! Such whimsy and playfulness, I actually smiled when I read it.

     My dictionary is bound with duct tape, its torn pages taped. My kids' dictionaries languish on bookshelves, spines barely creased. The computer has spellcheck, they remind me. I can find any fact I need on the Internet. I agree wholeheartedly we live in a glorious age of information and innovation. But still, I worry. For every technological gain, something is irretrievably lost. In the case of language, can we afford the loss?

     Using the example of an excursion through a dictionary, I suggest the joy of random discovery is greatly diminished. While a computer search would have retrieved everything I ever wanted to know about wildebeests, I'd never have learned of the existence of willie-waught. Or "hogfish," for that matt...

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