Words and power: how dictionaries define us


“In the prologue to the [first Spanish] dictionary, there’s this extended metaphor when you open the dictionary, it’s like walking into that cave, ”Boyle said. “I have given a lot of thought to the project to create this dictionary, as well as all the types of definitions it contains, which are fabulously poetic and a bit surprising and contradict a lot of our modern ideas on what it means to create these. collections.

The two professors shared their curiosity about the future of the dictionary, as well as the evolution of national culture through vocabulary.

“You have Urban Dictionary and all these other pseudo-dictionaries that are actually as used as most real dictionaries – a lot of people go to Urban Dictionary all the time,” Stavans said. “The Urban Dictionary is a democratic dictionary: for the people, by the people. There will come a time when no one will have objects, for the dictionary is a web page.

“[With an online dictionary,] you don’t need to browse the actual volume; you don’t have to worry about the alphabetical order, and there’s a sort of efficiency to that, and we can all appreciate that, ”Boyle added. “But, then, we can be nostalgic for the purpose of the dictionary and what it means to keep it.”

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