Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dictionary Lover

As an inveterate lover of dictionaries myself, I cannot wait to get my hands on Alain Rey's Dictionnaire amoureux des dictionnaires. For those who don't know, Rey is "le papa des Robert," that is, the lexicographer-in-chief of the incomparable and indispensable collection of dictionaries published by Robert. These are the tools of my trade, and I am especially indebted to the Robert Dictionnaire des expressions et locutions. So it is a pleasure to read of Alain Rey's pleasure in the history of the dictionary. I have a collection of French dictionaries from various epochs, and, like Rey, I sometimes amuse myself by examining the ways in which the Grand Larousse, of which I have a late 19th-c. specimen in my basement, treats words like nègre and crétin.

I should perhaps add, however, that I find myself relying increasingly on the marvelous electronic dictionary maintained by the Centre National de Ressources Textuelles et Lexicales, as well as the electronic Oxford English Dictionary. Despite my love of paper dictionaries, the advantages of the electronic dictionary are overwhelming.

1 comment:

Louis said...

My grandfathr has an old "Larousse du 20 siècle" in six volumes. Long lazy evenings were passd rading these big books on the carpet.

Dictionnaries and encyclopedies are extraordinary vessels of knowledge, and great objects. Though, working in front of a computer all day, or remotely from home, resources like the CNRTL are invaluable.