Using A Database Published After Ce

The final step in the art of dancing with language change is to use the music of a recent dictionary to accompany you. The early part of this new century has seen English adding words and altering word meanings at an unprecedented rate. Further, linguists predict this rate of change will increase as English continues to expand into a global language in an international world.

Writers of science must realize the value of checking on the age of their language database, whether in a book or on a computer. Many of the spell-check programs in use today fail to recognize changes in language which have been in place for years. Dictionaries on CD-ROM or on our desks are misleading if they are more than a few years old. Certainly those published before 2000 CE are no longer sufficiently helpful.

Whichever British or American database you choose, you will find each has a certain approach and priorities. For example, among the many American dictionaries, the Random House Webster's College Dictionary along with other Random House dictionaries are some of the few that, in addition to adding new words to each addition, attempt to put the most common meaning first. This is in contrast to dictionaries which prioritize meanings in less helpful ways, such as historical entrance into the language. Random House also lists new and old idioms by year of entry into the language, and so far has kept abreast of additions from the Internet and computers.

A relatively new dictionary, Microsoft Encarta College Dictionary: The First Dictionary for the Internet Age (2001), has a helpful unbiased emphasis on the language of current politics as well as on recent technology. However, it does this at the cost of omitting some of the historical and much of the etymological information in other dictionaries. An unabridged form of this dictionary was published in 2005.

Decide what is most important to you in a dictionary or database and choose yours accordingly. Finding out about the currency and usefulness of your language data base is essential. Scientists using old dictionaries continue to operate in danger zones.

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