Friday, March 18, 2011

Tools of the Trade

When I was younger I bought this electronic dictionary bookmark thingy. It was rather ugly, awkward, and was soon eclipsed by better technology, but I loved it. I carried it with me everywhere.

I also had a plethora of dictionaries. Old ones, new ones; you just never knew what you might need. Of course I had other word books, although interestingly enough no thesaurus. Very odd.

Today, although I still own a dictionary just for form's sake, I use the internet. My favorite online resource for the English language is The Free Dictionary, mainly because I like the layout. When I want to cite a definition in one of my papers I go one over to the Merriam Webster site, since it sounds more professional (to me, anyway). For Spanish, I use the SpanishDict site. The definitions are sound (from what I can tell) and the translation engine (I think that's what its called) at least gives me an idea of what to say/what has been said that I can't decipher.

That information all by itself isn't very interesting, I know. What I find interesting, and what prompted me to write about my non-interesting obsession with dictionaries, is how I go about writing these days.

For Spanish: first move is to open up a tab with my Spanish dictionary. Cannot proceed without it. This is understandable, in my opinion. I'm dealing with a lot of words I don't know the exact meaning of (and I like knowing the exact meaning).

For English: Used to be I could write an email, a blog post, even the occasional paper without having recourse to a dictionary. Now I can't. One of the first windows I open (is it a window or a tab? I have no idea) is the free dictionary site. I don't think it's because I've gotten forgetful; on the contrary, because of my enforced higher volume of reading I'm stumbling across new words and I want to use them, but I have to verify/obtain the exact meaning of the word, so I don't accidentally offend some erudite professor (run on sentence!).

Sometimes I wonder if this is abnormal behavior. Do other students/people feel the need to make sure they have their various dictionaries to hand? Or is it just me?

Anyway, those are my tools of the trade, trade being at this point student.

No comments: