The Web Runs on Love, Not Greed

Owen Byrne owen@permafrost.net
Fri, 4 Jan 2002 22:31:01 -0400


On Fri, Jan 04, 2002 at 09:29:21PM +0000, Russell Turpin wrote:
> Carey:
> >The school stamped all the books (effectively making returns impossible) 
> >and proceeded to distribute them to
> >the students.  Sure enough, within about 10 minutes, students were seeking 
> >out the words that every middleschool kid seeks out ... you know, the 
> >classics, 'fuck', 'shit' , 'ass', 'bitch'. Shockingly enough, all said 
> >words were present .. Great editorship for a dictionary designed for SIXTH 
> >graders, marketed to Sixth graders and supposedly geared for their level.
> >This was a well-known,oft used dictionary, and here was a very bad case of 
> >either poor editorship or really really shitty marketing. ..
> 
> Er .. I'm confused here. A student turns to a dictionary
> to look up a word, and it is THERE, and how is this an
> editorial failure?? A dictionary is used to find the
> meaning of words. It seems to me a minimum obligation of
> the editor is to make the dictionary as comprehensive
> as reasonable for the intended audience. And this is
> especially so for a student audience, since we want to
> reinforce the notion that dictionaries are useful.
> 
I'm a little confused here too - when I was in 6th grade, bitch, ass
 and dick were all in the dictionary. And cock, tit, leak, grass, fag, lesbian, 
breast (*ooh*). Lots and lots of adult words misappropriated by us kids.
That the words might be of use beyond the schoolyard was a revelation.
That they didn't include certain words only made those words extra
special.
Slang probably shouldn't be in a dictionary used to teach. Words with legitimate
usage (bitch, ass) shouldn't be excluded due to a slang meaning, subject 
to the need (in a printed dictionary, that is) for conciseness and 
attention to the audience.
Hmmm... conciseness and attention to the audience... What's the subject line again?


Owen