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Dictionaries

2023-08-01 00:00:00 / episode: 197

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Script

"Dictionaries.

What a wonderful invention.

I think the first dictionary was written about 400 years ago or 300.

Can't remember.

Um Samuel Johnson wrote the first Dictionary of English anyway, and he used it to put in a few jokes.

Anyway, we'll leave those jokes aside.

Dictionaries are great little machines and they're terrible at the same time.

Of course, they are great for finding the meaning of words and you can even check the spelling of words if you sort of know how to spell it in general.

At the beginning, they tell us how to use the words a little bit but not very much.

They're kind of hard to read.

Have you ever noticed that some dictionaries are really hard to read.

It's almost like it's written in a different language.

They have so many abbreviations and symbols in them that it's hard to understand.

But a good dictionary is easy to read.

Then you can read it and get examples and you can get the meaning clearly.

It's hard to make good clear meanings.

Trust me.

So a good dictionary is worth its weight in gold and yet they have a problem.

We find the meanings of words, but we don't know how to use them.

A case in point is verbs.

When I teach English, I teach people verbs.

But sometimes they go to the dictionary and they find the meaning of the verb and then they go and make a sentence that's wrong.

The meaning is there, it's clear but the grammatical usage is wrong.

We need certain patterns before the verb, certain patterns after the verb, you see all these words are linked together and the dictionaries don't always tell us those patterns or they might show one example, but it's very difficult to find a pattern.

From one example.

You need many examples to find the pattern.

So I kind of don't like dictionaries at the same time.

They're a good backup.

They're a good tool, but they shouldn't be your main source of information.

By the way, if you want a good dictionary, ask me, I'll give you some good advice."