A Paperback Dictionary

Language changes. Words are born, grow old, and die.

We lived in a strange time when we were younger – the time of a printed dictionary.

People used to own a book with all of the words. Perhaps the Oxford Dictionary, perhaps a Merriam-Webster. If there was a dispute or a debate about a word – the book could be referenced. Now, we have a digital equivalent. Millions of definitions, that are edited frequently, available at our fingertips.

But words are losing their meaning. Because meaning is a shared reality. Let’s take an extreme example – surely, we can all agree on what a chair is? That is something we can “define”. Is this a chair?

It seems strange that something like a printed dictionary might have ever existed when language is so loose. And, I know that this sounds extreme, but reading 1984 is a good reminder, those that control the language can control thoughts. What exists and what does not exist. If there is a word for something, it exists, and if there is not word for something it becomes transitory, a zephyr.

I am not making an argument here, just an observation. Language has always been the way in which we have made sense of our world, both personally and within groups. And people have always been attempting to define words – but they are malleable.

The strange thing is that there was a time where there was a printed dictionary. A book that tried to house the power of a language.

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