Did you know that Merriam Webster within the last year added 530 new words and new meanings to its dictionary, not to mention over 4,000 other revisions to definitions, etymologies, pronunciations, and dates of first-known use? Language is a living breathing thing that reflects the beauty of our changing humanity, from politics and law, to games and sport, through to race and identity -- indicative of interests and trends in pop culture; psychology; business and finance; linguistics; and many other facets of life. We now have "deep state", defined as "an alleged secret governmental network operating extralegally"; "escape room" --"a game in which participants confined to a room or other enclosed setting are given a set amount of time to find a way to escape"; and "vacay", shortened for vacation. Editors are hard at work, as we relish new words that find their way into common and then approved usage throughout America.
Dictionary Day is celebrated annually on October 16th, coinciding with the birthday of Noah Webster, American lexicographer, otherwise known as the Father of the American Dictionary. Webster was born in 1758 in Hartford, Connecticut, and published his first dictionary, A Compendious of the English Language, in 1806. Over the next two decades he would expand his work into the American Dictionary of the English Language, an authoritative, fully comprehensive dictionary.
In or out of the classroom, let's mark the day with an activity or two. We might ponder our favorite words; look up a word we don't know; start collecting new words; or make up new ones. Add or share your suggestions to this blog, as we wish Noah Webster a Happy Birthday!
The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.
- Many Get Post Dictionaries: Hundreds Take Advantage Of Exceptional Offer Of Webster Standards. (1911, Oct 24). The Washington Post (1877-1922)
- This Is the Day They Go: "Dictionary Day" At the Tennessean and American Office Begins--Be Sure and Come Early For Yours. (1911, Nov 10). Nashville Tennessean and the Nashville American (1910-1920)
- Every Day Is Dictionary Day. (1911, Nov 09). Nashville Tennessean and the Nashville American (1910-1920)
- Thompson, W. M. (1904, May 29). Making the Dictionary. Boston Daily Globe (1872-1922)
- Big Piles Of Books Claimed: Large Shipment To Satisfy Dictionary Demand--They Are Going Rapidly. (1912, Oct 26). San Francisco Chronicle (1869-Current File)
- Immense Demand For Dictionaries. (1911, Nov 12). Nashville Tennessean and the Nashville American (1910-1920)
- Noah Webster's Centenary. (1928, Dec 17). New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Goodman, N (1936, Apr 26). Noah Webster's Claim To Fame. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Whicher, G. F. (1936, May 03). True Connecticut Yankee: How Noah Webster, He Of the Dictionary, Acted As Schoolmaster To a Whole Nation. New York Herald Tribune (1926-1962)
- 1806 Dictionary by Noah Webster First Of Its Kind. (1970, Nov 26). The Hartford Courant (1923-1994)
- Clements, A. Frindle. New Yor: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, c1996. JUV PZ7.C59118 Fr 1998
- Staci, M. A Literature Kit for Frindle by Andrew Clements. San Diego: Classroom Complete Press, 2010. e-book
- Jones, P. A. (2016, Oct. 16). 10 Facts About Webster's Dictionary for Dictionary Day. Mental Floss.
- Noah Webster, Pre-1843, Wikimedia Commons
- Special Slide, Courtesy of EdLab Studios
Need to keep current, look to the past, teach a topic? The Everett Cafe features daily postings of news from around the world, and also promotes awareness of historical events from an educational context. Be sure to check the news postings on Learning at the Library, where you can delve into history.