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.