Tuesday, April 5, 2016

D is for Dictionaries

Dictionaries, actual paper books of words, are essentially obsolete.   I certainly enjoy the ease of looking up words online or using Google Translate to start working out communication.  Still, there was a time when I collected bilingual dictionaries with delight.  I had pocket dictionaries for Norwegian and Danish, and a one thousand word list that told you common words in Russian, Latvian, and English.  Because I was learning Latvian, I had a picture dictionary, a two-way dictionary that was adequate, and a Latvian-English dictionary that was much more thorough, but didn't allow for the essential cross referencing that helps to ensure you're getting the right shade of meaning.

I miss that, the working out of the spelling of a new word, the examination of the various meanings when translated back, and the choosing of which one best served my needs.  I miss my dad's name scrawled on the inside of the Russian phrasebook, the hunt through Powell's for Latvian English dictionaries, the thrill of imagining that someday I might find use for a Georgian-English dictionary.  Those are amongst the only books that survived my "Do I really need my own copy?" purge a few years back.  I don't much miss three ton Websters', but I can't bring myself to give up those bilingual dictionaries.


  1. Ha-ha. I carried around a Norwegian dictionary when I visited. Now you take a smart phone and can google the translation. Things sure have changed. I have a collection of dictionary, but rarely use anymore.

    Pioneer Women in Aviation A-Z

  2. Wow! I'm impressed! I tried learning some German, but didn't get too far with it.
    Great post for 'D'.

  3. I would probably never give up those dictionaries either. You never know when you might need them. I love books!

    Visiting you from the A to Z


  4. I still have my insanely large, hard-cover dictionary. I haven't been able to get rid of it yet even though I probably haven't opened it in a decade. Not sure why I keep it.

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  5. My mother still uses dictionaries to do her crosswords - she doesn't like computers. The books are so well used they are falling apart :). I remember having to lug a huge once around for school.
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