Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Saving the Words

"Broadly speaking, the short words are best, and old words best of all." --Winston Churchill

The Oxford English Dictionary has been around since 1857 and is updated annually. In the past decade, however, its sales have been declining as those of us in search of definitions have headed to sites such as Dictionary.com rather than get up and pick the hard copy up from its place as a doorstop. The team dedicated to reviving the OED brand wasn't just trying to compete with these sites, but rather had the mandate to "..make people fall in love with the English language."  Lofty that, but for those of us, like Churchill, who adore language, we may be grateful for a treasure.

Save the Words is an interactive patchwork quilt of what the team calls "archaic but mysterious" words.  Among those I ran across today were:

Rhodologist: one who studies and classifies roses.  The rhodologist introduced a species of roses that smells like leftover sardines, thus disproving Shakespeare's quote.

Jobler:  one who does small jobs.  To celebrate my pathetic pay raise, I'm going out to drink with some joblers. 

No English stuffiness here, but lots of delicious irreverence.  Readers even have the option to "adopt" a favorite. Should those of you who don't spend your days immersed in Victorian novels know the meaning of any without a double-click, my hat is off to you.  For those who love words, prepare to entire the opium den.

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