1: a book containing an alphabetical arrangement of the words in a language and their definitions: Dictionary
2: (a) the vocabulary of a language, an individual speaker or group of speakers, or a subject; (b) the total stock of morphemes in a language
Lexicon (n.): c. 1600, “a dictionary,” from Middle French lexicon or directly from Modern Latin lexicon, from Greek lexikon (biblion) “word (book),” from neuter of lexikos “pertaining to words,” from lexis “word,” from legein “say” (related to: lecture).
Used originally of dictionaries of Greek, Syriac, Hebrew and Arabic, because these typically were in Latin and in Modern Latin lexicon, not dictionarius, was the preferred word. The modern sense of “vocabulary proper to some sphere of activity” (1640s) is a figurative extension.
“I don't understand your book. Isn't every book a book of words?”
Kristin Cashore (b. 1976, American fantasy writer)
“Empty teacups gathered around her and dictionary pages fell at her feet.”
Nicole Krauss (b. 1974, American author of “Great House” and “The History of Love,” and “Man Walks Into a Room”)
“The dictionary is based on the hypothesis -- obviously an unproven one -- that languages are made up of equivalent synonyms.”
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986, Argentine author, who “exerted a strong influence on the direction of literary fiction through his genre-bending metafictions, essays, and poetry.”)
“The struggle of literature is in fact a struggle to escape from the confines of language; it stretches out from the utmost limits of what can be said; what stirs literature is the call and attraction of what is not in the dictionary.”
Italo Calvino (1923-1985, Italian journalist, short-story writer, and novelist, whose works made him one the most important Italian fiction writers of the 20th century.)
“Human suffering has been caused because too many of us cannot grasp that words are only tools for our use. The mere presence in the dictionary of a word like 'living' does not mean it necessarily has to refer to something definite in the real world.”
Richard Dawkins (b. 1941, English ethologist, evolutionary biologist, best-selling author, and professor at Oxford University)
“If I'm a guy who doesn't seem so merry,
It's just because I'm so misunderstood.
When I was young I ate a dictionary,
And that did not do me a bit of good.
For I've absorbed so many words and phrases—
They drive me dizzy when I want to speak.
I start explaining but each person gazes
As if I spoke in Latin or in Greek.”
Ira Gershwin (1896-1983, Pulitzer Prize winning songwriter, lyricist, composer, best known for writing such popular musicals like “Porgy and Bess”)
“And so, when I began to read the proffered pages, I at one moment lost the train of thought in the text and drowned it in my own feelings. In these seconds of absence and self-oblivion, centuries passed with every read but uncomprehended and unabsorbed line, and when, after a few moments, I came to and re-established contact with the text, I knew that the reader who returns from the open seas of his feelings is no longer the same reader who embarked on that sea only a short while ago.”
Milorad Pavic´(1929-2009, Serbian novelist, poet, short-story writer, and literary historian; best known for the “Dictionary of the Khazars”)
“And so, when I began to read the proffered pages, I at one moment lost the train of thought in the text and drowned it in my own feelings. In these seconds of absence and self-oblivion, centuries passed with every read but uncomprehended and unabsorbed line, and when, after a few moments, I came to and re-established contact with the text, I knew that the reader who returns from the open seas of his feelings is no longer the same reader who embarked on that sea only a short while ago.” — Milorad Pavic´
I love words. I love abiding in the presence of them, savoring them and contemplating their nuances and deeper meanings. Didn’t always feel this way, though. Words were a great mystery to me, especially as a child, when I was tested and badgered to comprehend their meanings at great speed.
Milorad Pavic´ writes so wisely about how powerful and transformative the written word can be, especially in the hands of great creative minds.
Now, that I am older and have less emotional noise, fortunately, I have more control over my thoughts and can follow my mind’s creative zigzags. While reading and researching, my curious mind often travels across the globe and the universe, and circle back with further thoughts to contemplate.
When I sit to research a word I glean profound epiphanies, not just about words and their origins, but about the lives and journeys of the authors themselves, some of which I am discovering for the first time.
It gives me such joy to take these word journeys daily with you. And I hope I help create meaning in your daily lives as well.
Continue to stay curious, fellow journey men and women.
Much Love, Tonya