This ain’t no Webster’s

I keep a dictionary on my desk at work to help me with spelling but also with some vocabulary words that seem to pop up regularly here but which were practically unknown to me for the first 50 years of my life. (“Secondment” is one that I keep having to plumb the subtleties). In a quiet moment today, I flipped through it while letting my mind roam; this is not atypical of how I start a project–a couple minutes of thoughtless page flipping while the new work’s shape settles into that skull of mine and I can start weaving.

The dictionary in question is the Paperback Oxford Canadian Dictionary, 2nd Edition, and the subtleties of secondment barely touches the tip of its iceberg of information. I can look up “Parental Guidance” to get the Alberta take, as well as “parental guidance” for the more garden variety take. The primary definition of “gay” is not “carefree” (although that is the second definition), and “fuck-up” is nicely defined–actually eloquently so.

It’s a far cry from the argument I had with Michael Oris, back when we were about 8 and 9, about whether “ain’t” could or should be in the dictionary. But, today, I neglected to look that one up.

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