Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Stone-Blind -- Zymurgy

In the laundry room downstairs, calling my name, is the "New Century Dictionary." Considering it's leather-bound and the book on top of it was printed in 1929, I'm thinking the 21st is not the new century to which it refers. The title of this post is what Volume Three covers. It caught my eye because it looked at first glance like one long hyphenated word, and because I'd never heard of zymurgy (fermentation, apparently).

The idea of dictionaries has interested me recently, as the new Vice President of VWS, Michael McGovern, has an impressive collection of them. Every kind imaginable, and several languages. A hundred slightly different definitions, a thousand slightly different ideas of the central vocabulary of English.

As writers, we live immersed in language. But we also live in the particular connotations associated with our word choice. I talked about gendered language last month, and all of its attendant problems, but all word choice requires careful consideration, as the language evolves constantly.

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