Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Your dictionary is too big.

If your dictionary gives two spellings for a word, it's too big. I have a 1976 Merriam-Webster three-volume dictionary that came with my copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and it's so frigging huge that it has alternate spellings for every damned word.

We tried to use it for Scrabble verification, but you could pretty much play any seven letters and that word is in there. To use the example that Jason mentioned, it says this on page 1223 (of the H-Z second volume):

judgment or judgement

Never spend more than about $5.95 for a dictionary. When the book is too big, they start adding "regional spellings" (just outside of Joliet, south of the prison, on windy days, it's spelled...). How the hell can a "reference book" get away with this? Do they make math textbooks with alternate answers for 2+2?

When I look up the spelling for a word, I want ONE ANSWER. That's what reference books are for.


Jason said...

My AP Style Guide says:

judgment Not judgement.

The AP Style Guide is my bible. Well, except for that one error.

the evil one said...

If a word was misspelled in the dictionary, how would we know?

- Enrique

Shocho said...

Style guides are good, at least they take a side. I like that. I've never owned one, but somebody I worked with had one and I referred to it often.

Thanks for the "one-hand-clapping" philosophy there, Evilness.

Bpaul said...

Despite your very reasonable statements, I still want a full-size Oxford English Dictionary set.

Not the microfiche one, not the mini one with the magnifying glass -- full sized. Probably have to devote a wall in the house to it.


thisismarcus said...

Beg to differ: I don't want to be told I'm spelling a word wrong by a cheap-ass six dollar book and go on to lose the game just because it's not THE most accepted form.

Never heard of two Es in "judgment" before though. Perhaps you just have the worst dictionary ever. Whose is it?

Shocho said...

I'd rather be told the "wrong" answer than to get two. Who says what is right? That's supposed to be the dictionary.

It's a Merriam-Webster dictionary. Check the OED, I bet it has 2 spellings for the word too.