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November 07, 2002 - 10:19 a.m.

i bought a dictionary yesterday. not just any dictionary, mind you, but the biggest one i could find.

i was hoping for something to rival webster's unabridged like i used back home, but the biggest i could get had only one third of the entries.

i like the idea of unabridged. knowing that every word is in there, or at least every word that counts, makes me feel secure and confident. i used to test dictionaries by looking up the word i misspelled in the national spelling bee. if the dictionary contained the word, then it was big enough. webster's unabridged had it. neither of the fatty australian english dictionaries i contemplated buying yesterday had it. it was a stupid word anyway.

it's a really weird thing to compare dictionaries and decide which one you will buy. it's not like you would just buy another if the first one wasn't good enough. this dictionary will have to last me a long time.

if two dictionaries are roughly the same size, what are the deciding factors? i ended up looking up random words that i knew were spelled differently in australia and the u.s. for example, the word curb, as in the edge of a sidewalk, is spelled kerb here. the oxford australian english dictionary had a one-line definition. the macquarie dictionary had seven definitions, followed by this little tidbit:

"Also, Chiefly US, curb. [var. spelling of CURB]"

estrogen is spelled oestrogen here. both dictionaries had roughly the same definitions, but macquarie had an entire section about oe spelling variations. the main entry was also written as oestrogen = estrogen, followed by a pronunciation guide.

so the macquarie won, fair and square. it was also $10 cheaper, i might add, which hardly makes sense.

i also bought two books about grammar, punctuation, etc. one was a famous text that i needed to revisit, and the other was one put together by bill bryson.

bryson is an american who spent 20+ years in england and is now back in the u.s. he wrote a very interesting book about australia a few years back and has worked as a travel writer and a journalist. while not necessarily definitive, his word-usage book was incredible because it actually documented differences in usage between england and the u.s., in punctuation, grammar and basic rules. he sometimes explains why it's different, as well, which makes a world of difference to me. you could easily say i'm confused at the moment, and who am i going to talk to about it? it's not exactly a hot dinner topic. and simon, with his english/australian background, is probably the most confused soul i know. he took my other grammar book and is planning to study it.


in other news, we've decided to host thanksgiving at our house. if anyone has any recipes or ideas for favorite thanksgiving dishes, please pass them along. keep in mind that i will have to make them vegan, but the ideas will stay the same.

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