Sunday, December 03, 2006

like dust on my OED,
time casts a fine particulate
upon my once-clear soul

-- start of a Hulles poem, from back when he wrote poetry and thought he knew what growing old was all about

I've always loved the Oxford English Dictionary, the OED to us word-lovers and wannabe literary types. I would say that it's the Bible of the English language, but that would be sacrilegious. Maybe if I use a small 'b' in 'bible' I could get away with it. Anyway it's a big deal.

I used to own a Compact Edition of the OED. This was a two-volume edition of the gazillion-volume Standard Edition that came with a magnifying glass so you could read the entry you were interested in. And most entries were interesting: the OED gives detailed etymology and many examples of usage along with the definition of a word. I have no idea where my OED is now, which is one of the sadder statements I've made today.

The OED is to me a revered and respected old friend. I have it listed in my blog profile “Favorite Books.” I subscribe to the OED word of the day (WOTD) on my Internet home page. In fact, the OED is to me much like a Harley Davidson Fat Boy is to its owner. I was thinking as I was writing this that, also like a Harley owner, if I could figure out a way to have sex with it I would. If that were true though, there would be a lot of little illustrated childrens' dictionaries running around today, all named Heather of course.

I tell you all of this so you can begin to understand how appalled I was recently to find that the OED Word of the Day was “bootylicious.” What the f*ck? It's the Oxford Engslish Dictionary! Finding “bootylicious” in the OED is like finding a vibrator in your late grandmother's effects: you can understand why it's there, but actually confronting it makes you recoil in horror. It's just so wrong.

I'll get over it eventually. But come on, “bootylicious?” And "Word of the Day?" I'll never read the OED in the same way again. Thus another venerated icon bites the dust. Sigh.

-- Hulles


Dulcinea said...

Great, and so you had to ruin it for me, too. Thanks.

La Espia T. said...

Naw. I kind of like it. Though I am of the sociolinguistic persuasion.

Balderdash said...

...ever heard of "Modern American Usage" by Bryan Garner? If not, I dare to blaspheme and say it may rival your OED.

Hulles said...

Dulci dear, I also shout out "Don't go into the basement!" in theaters during horror movies. The word "buzzkill" leaps to the lips when I am described in some circles. It's a curse. But I'm working on it.

T., you are of the bootylicious persuasion. That's why you like the word.

And Balderdash, I think I may have even owned that book at one time and that it's now in the same place as my OED, wherever that is. There's another book nearly as good but more specialized whose name I forget but that I actually possess so I can find it when I get home. It's underneath my stack of vintage Hustlers somewhere. I'll let you know (unless I get absorbed with August 1978 all over again).