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Monday, October 06, 2003

It seems I'll soon be contributing to a new project being launched by a semifriend Alicia entitled "the interpretive descriptionary." Insofar as at least one of those three words doesn't appear (according to dictionary.com) within the English language, I'll give you the introduction that the hosting site offers:

English is one, if not the most complicated of them all. We have words like "to", which is pronounced the same as "two" as well as "too" - one sound for three different words. We have the ability to communicate every possible level of happiness, with words like "glad" and "joyful." There are verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, every imaginable prefix and suffix available to adapt a phrase to exactly the way you want it. We even have the Holy Grail of the English language, the dictionary. It will tell us what a word means, in all of that word's varied meanings. Most will even give you synonyms, antonyms, even the phonetic spelling. However, what some may not know is that a dictionary is to be used as a guide, not a rulebook. Every word is subject to its meaning changing, adapting to the constant altering of society.

The point of this project isn't to create new definitions. It's to create new descriptions of those definitions. To show the power of language, to emote what those words mean to us. Our goal is to create a worldwide collaboration of people who want more than a textbook definition of a word; we're creating an international interpretive descriptionary.


It's very Wittgensteinian concept - first, by defining words by giving a number of different common interpretations of it, and second, just the concept of the language as an evolving body of knowledge, not something with static conditions restricting our use of words to what a book says they mean. It should be interesting to see how this goes.

cranked out at 1:33 AM | |

 
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