QA 33. May 2012. It’s only words, and words are all I have…

It is often forgotten that (dictionaries) are artificial repositories, put together well after the languages they define. The roots of language are irrational and of a magical nature. Jorge Luis Borges

The hard drive of my laptop crashed two days before I was to leave on a residential writing retreat. I took it philosophically (of course) and looked forward to five days of writing by hand. But when I realised I’d also be without my online dictionaries, I packed a neglected old companion: a second-hand Collins English Dictionary bought a dozen years ago when I was writing my thesis. Subtitled A Dictionary of the English Language containing over 100,000 References and Numerous Supplements and edited by Alexander H. Irvine, it was first published in 1956. It’s a pleasantly compact hardcover edition complete with faded dust-wrap and a frayed plastic cover. The R10 price is still pencilled on the flyleaf. In the next few days, we fell in love all over again. Read more