The fetishism of the dictionary

A famous actress, Julia Roberts, once has said in her interview, “I love the moment when somebody says something very profoundly and precisely.” I totally agree with her comment. That’s why I have been in love with dictionaries.

For most people, dictionaries are a kind of tool for searching for something. It’s just a tool, and you may think it doesn’t make sense if I say, “I love dictionaries.”
However, some people love pens which are just tools for writing. Similarly, I love dictionaries.

My favourite sections in the dictionary

There are different types of dictionary: English-English dictionary, the dictionary of foreign language and your mother tongue, the dictionary for the letters (alphabets) you are not familiar with. You may have a couple of dictionaries on your bookshelf, but have you ever read a one— from page 1 to the end?

I have tried to read through a whole dictionary of mine, but I gave up because it was so boring. Still, no matter what kind of dictionary it is, they always have my favourite section. It is a supplemental part which is usually put at the very beginning or the very end (or both) of dictionaries.

If it’s not clear to you which part of the dictionary I am talking about, please take one of them and look at the index. The dictionary is composed of a couple of sections. The thickest part is the ‘body,’ where we look for some words when it’s necessary.

Before or after the ‘body’ part, they normally have other sections, such as the explanation of the language pronunciation and grammar or editor’s comment. I love reading those parts. It is the first thing I do after I buy a new dictionary, to read the supplemental sections from the first letter to the last letter.

Why do I love dictionaries so much?

I admire its comprehensiveness and versatility, which is the fact that it includes every single word of the language. It concentrates the essential elements of the language. Furthermore, it exquisitely precisely defines all of the words.

The sexiness is more enhanced when it comes to exclusive dictionaries defining words by the same language, such as English-English dictionary or Japanese-Japanese dictionary, rather than foreign language translation dictionaries. You can find a perfect definition of a new word explained in the same language, which is as cannibal as analysing a human brain by using our brains. It’s also thrilling to read a definition of the word ‘dictionary’ in your dictionary.

Thinnest papers of thickest dictionaries are a highlight of dictionary fetish. Fragile papers absorbed the ink of the letters and got slightly heavier than initial. Soft and secretly wet touches to the papers are also exciting. Each paper stuck to your fingers is tightly fulfilled with the words and letters which are almost suffocatingly conflicting with each other.

Occasional illustration in the dictionary

It occasionally has illustrations in order to explain more clearly. An illustration takes more space than letters and ends up having more empty room on the page. It is a bit disappointing for me because I love the darker pages with dense words. That’s why the pages which include illustrations cannot be my favourite pages.

The illustration in the dictionary is not for entertaining the readers by their visual eroticism. They exist only to explain the words precisely. Nothing more, nothing less. That stoicism could be seductive for dictionary-lovers.

The electronic dictionary and the paper dictionary

In the twenty-first century, we cannot ignore electronic dictionaries. Personally, it’s not as tempting to me as the paper dictionary, although I admit it is convenient. Paper dictionaries are much heavier even when the thinnest papers are used. It’s sometimes a nuisance to carry it around all the time, even though I know it’s the weight of our languages. The electronic dictionary is superior in terms of their handiness. It’s quicker to find the word which you look for and the quality of the contents can never be inferior to the paper dictionary.

However, there is a big difference between paper dictionaries and electronic ones. Electronic dictionaries kill the chance of an ‘unintentional meeting’ with other words and definitions. When you are using the paper dictionary, you see lots of other words besides the word you are looking for. You don’t recognise that ‘you are looking at’ the other words, but they are still in your sight, as a background.

The word which you are looking for and the other words, they are not always related to each other by their meanings. They coincidentally became neighbours because of the word ordering law in the dictionary. In electronic dictionaries, you never have spontaneous inspiration by the accidental meeting of words. Don’t you think it’s prosaic?




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