September 05, 2007

"Infectiously Exuberant [Lexicographical] Talk"

Terrific TedTalk by Erin McKean, editor in chief of the Oxford American Dictionary; on the TedTalks web site, they call her infectiously exuberant, and I'd have to agree. It's 15 minutes, but I could have listened for much longer.

On the word "lexicographical": it's a double dactyl, defined by the OED thusly: "Prosody. A metrical foot consisting of a long syllable followed by two short (or, in modern verse, of an accented syllable and two unaccented)." Heh heh, she said "double dactyl".

McKean suggests that the "book-shaped" dictionary no longer going to be the "only shape dictionaries come in." "No one hugs dictionaries", she asserts (tho' honestly, I have been known to pet a dictionary's pages ...)

Further, she defines serendipity -- known in dictionary-land as well as library-land -- as finding unknown things because finding the original item was "so damn difficult."

One of her favorite words? Erinaceous. From the OED again: "Pertaining to the hedgehog family; of the nature of a hedgehog."

Her metaphors and similes are delightful, and her enthusiasm for words and dictionaries is inspiring. If you use words, you should watch this presentation.

For More Information
* Erin's bio @ TedTalks
* Redefining the dictionary: Erin McKean on Recorded, March 2007 in Monterey Calif. and released online August 30, 2007. Also available via iTunes.

Erin's two blogs:
* Dictionary Evangelist
* A Dress A Day

1 comment:

Maxine Schmidt said...

"No one hugs dictionaries"

I do. Many years ago, when the place I lived was threatened by a fire, I grabbed my cat and my compact OED and drove away. I spent the night in my car, hugging them both.