Monday, December 18, 2006

Dictionary Heaven

Old Friend

I maintain a Writing, Editing, and Research Resources page on my website and have just added the following gem:....

Webster's Online Dictionary with Multilingual Thesaurus Translation, compiled by Philip M. Parker of INSEAD. In addition to definitions of words (I looked up "molasses"), provides specialty definitions (e.g., dream interpretation), synonyms, crosswords (i.e., words defined by the word you're looking up), modern and commercial usage examples, photos, uses in literature and nonfiction, usage frequency, expressions, frequency of internet keywords, modern and ancient translations, derivations and misspellings, rhyming words, anagrams, and alternative orthography. This last category includes expressions of the word in Hexadecimal, Leonardo da Vinci (backwards), American Sign Language, Semaphore, Braille, Morse Code, Dancing Men, Binary Code, HTML Code, British Sign Language, and Encryption (beginner's substitution cypher). Also provides usage in art, proper noun and trade name usage, use in news and articles, and appearance in non-English dictionaries. Other words may have somewhat different categories.

Parker's site also offers some java-script code that lets one double-click on any word on a page to get that word's definition. That code doesn't seem to work in the permalink entry but it does work on the main page.

Not all the words have an Orthography section. I lucked out with "molasses" because I'd found Parker's site while researching blackstrap molasses. One brand we buy has drastically cut the amount of potassium in its product, and I'll be contacting the manufacturer before I go off on a tear about it here.

I've been having some fun over at Parker's site. For one thing, I used the Non-English option and typed in Deviations character names. I'd Googled some of the major ones early on, to be sure that if the word existed it wasn't limited to a single individual or meaning. The Websters is even more comprehensive.

For example, when I plugged in the words "Yata" and "Masari" -- the two different peoples of my story -- I found that "Yata" transliterated from the Sanskrit means "controlled", while "Masari" translated from Ivatan means "dark". I thought those were pretty apt. :)

(I then looked up Ivatan, which I learned is an Austronesian language spoken exclusively in the Batanes Islands in the most northern reaches of the Philippines.)

Parker's compendium almost makes up for the loss of, which I'd found thanks to Melinama's blog Pratie Place. was such a neat site. It included words fallen into disuse, rare words, 2- and 3-letter Scrabble words, and a plethora of dictionaries and language resources. I hope it turns up again somewhere. I've found other "phrontistery" sites but they don't come close.

My resources page is an outgrowth of something I'd put together at my last place of employment, since I'd been the resident grammar geek in my department. That initial page -- a place for colleagues to go when they couldn't reach me -- consisted mainly of the items in the grammar section. I'd found those sites on my own.

Once I got involved in the blogosphere I found references mentioned elsewhere. I added those to my list, with a link back to the person providing the information. Pretty soon the list went way beyond grammar and into the realm of general research, since I often consult whatever I can get my hands on. My students learn about this page during the "research" part of the creative writing course I teach. The page is a work in progress, open to suggested additions.

Up top is the Random House College Dictionary, Revised Edition, 1975. I took it with me to college that year. It's got an "Ex Libris" bookplate imprinted with a spiral galaxy and on which I'd typed my name in all caps at the bottom. It's stained and ratty and taped up in places in addition to what you see here. The silver duct tape is Mary's handiwork.

This old friend stays faithfully by my side in the studio along with its sidekick, the Roget's International Thesaurus, Third Edition, 1962 (Thomas Y. Crowell Company).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I may have the same dictionary, bought around the same time, and also falling apart. It's red.

11:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! I just read your blog post, and just wanted to let you know that as of yesterday, the Phrontistery is back in business at its usual place,

6:48 PM  

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