No Dictionary, No Scrabble: JDoyle

My photosponse is a response to Samuel Johnson’s “Preface to Johnson’s Dictionary”. The reading really got me thinking of how much effort and time goes into creating a dictionary (apparently 9 years for Johnson, mostly solo too). It’s an impressive feat, and makes me think just how many words there are to include. Not only are there words, but syllables, stresses, origins, lexical categories, different meanings and more! Not only that but Johnson included quotes with his definitions as well, to give the definitions a better understanding.

To demonstrate this reading, my picture of a game of scrabble illustrates a small sample of possible words that can appear in a dictionary. The game itself relies on how many words you have learned in your life and can remember (and of course spell correctly). The same reasoning applies to a dictionary as well. Johnson would have needed to collect all known words at the time of his writing, and learn their spelling and meanings.

I think anyone who has played a game of scrabble had accused their competitor to prove their word exists in a dictionary (scrabble even has its own official dictionary). I know myself and possibly many others recall words they’ve learned from reading the dictionary and applied them to a game of scrabble. The importance of the dictionary doesn’t just benefit board games, but the english language as a whole. Johnson knew this, and strived to create the best available dictionary during his time. Not only did he succeed in that regard, but his influence has continued on to this day.


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