Thursday, July 16, 2015

For Everyday Use

A Langenscheidt's Pocket Dictionary: Latin-English, English-Latin, sat beside my computer for several weeks, I'm not sure why. Last weekend, I noticed that the descriptions on the back cover conclude with "The ideal compact reference for everyday use."

Who, other than teacher, scholar, or student, makes use of a Latin-English dictionary every day? I did look into it several times a week, mostly because my computer takes a while to boot up and be ready for use. So I know, until I forget, that "ethologus" means "an imitator of manners" and "pernonides" is "son of a ham". Yet it has moved, and I have managed to start the computer without missing it.

Flann O'Brien writes in the "WAAMA, etc." section of The Best of Myles, in proposing the employment of professional book handlers,
The wares in a bookshop look completely unread. On the other hand, a school-boy's Latin dictionary looks read to the point of tatters. You know that the dictionary has been opened and scanned perhaps a million times, and if you did not know that there was such a thing as a box on the ear, you would conclude that the boy is crazy about Latin and cannot bear to be away from his dictionary.
 The box on the ear was out of fashion in this country by my parents' generation. The only dictionary now falling apart in the house is a Langenscheidt's, but for German and English. Time has as much to do with its state as use, I think.

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