The Ultimate Guide for switching from a PC to a Mac
(Part 2 - coming soon)

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Another Dictionary Widget!

The dictionary widget that comes with every Mac is good, but it's not always the best. There are some words, especially computer terms, that are only found in constantly updated dictionaries such as the Wiktionary. If you try searching "iPhone", you won't find much in most dictionaries, but the Wiktionary will inform you right away. What is great is that just like Wikipedia, there is a widget for the Wiktionary. The only downside compared to the regular dictionary is that it only works if you are online. You can get the Wiktionary widget here from MacUpdate.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose, that is, if you want a dictionary that contains words that are not an official part of the English language.

July 6, 2007 at 11:01 PM  
Blogger Grant Barrett said...

Well, yes. No words are an official part of the English language, since there's no such thing as "official English." There's no official committee that inducts words.

July 7, 2007 at 6:35 AM  
Blogger Monkeywiz said...

I beg to differ, I'm afraid, there are several committees who do try to list all official words, and induct new ones as they become part of the common lexicon, for example:-

Not sure if there's an American equivalent, but then you guys still haven't learnt how to spell colour correctly yet :P (kidding, although how hard is it to remember the u)

July 7, 2007 at 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My point exactly. Although language is evolving there is a process to it, governed by official bodies. Many words enter the cultural lexicon before they are accepted as English words. It is what we call slang.

The practice of immediately adopting new words is more rampant in North American than in England. There post-modernist and post-colonialist approaches to language are more common. In other words, subvert language to make it one's own. I don't agree with this practice because it leads to the acceptance of words such as nite, lite, donut, or gray. The goal is to make language more accessible, however the downside is that it breeds laziness and poor language skills. This is not something I would actively promote.

A Wiki run dictionary is a dangerous thing because it grants the ability to shape and control language to the average user, people who do not have the qualifications, nor the understanding to carry out these tasks. No doubt you may disagree, however it is my stance that language is a powerful thing and should be left in the hands of the capable.

July 7, 2007 at 10:19 AM  
Blogger MacBlack said...

Well said Earl Grey, I couldn't agree more.

Unfortunately the english language is eroding to slang, due to laziness and ignorance in my opinion. Hopefully the people who use these internet tools understand that with the lose of a language comes the lose of a culture.

July 7, 2007 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Rugbysquire said...

You folks join a long line of people bemoaning the loss (get the spelling right macblack) of the English language. One of the earliest people was Jonathan Swift (in the 1700's) decrying the word usage of the younger generation.

Try reading 16th century literature in its original text. There is not too much spelt like it is today.

Read the notes written by Winston Churchill (not his books). They are the closest I have seen to "text messaging spelling".

The language will continue to change - it will not deteriorate nor become more superior - just richer in its make up.

I would disagree that UK English takes on less words than American English. Just different words although (more often the same).

In New Zealand we take on both. Perhaps that makes us the poorer for it. But then we also have our own words and meanings.

Kia Ora bro

July 7, 2007 at 8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I didn't deny that there is evolution of language. I simply believe it should be directed down a logical course by educated scholars rather than by the masses.

July 7, 2007 at 9:58 PM  
Blogger Rugbysquire said...

Earl Grey

The language was never developed by educated scholars (if that was the case we would all still be speaking (Norman) French) so why should they have some preference now to do so.

The masses just bastardised some of the words and gave them slightly different meanings e.g. mutton and beef.

Mind you the French are trying it today with mixed results.

Final thought - if the world used logical thought then everyone would have an Apple.

July 8, 2007 at 3:10 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Historically, the moneyed classes like to pretend that they deserve their wealth, even if it is inherited, and part of that pretension is their "education" and their "superior" use of language. This is why for years the lower and middle classes were not allowed to learn to read or write (true of American slaves as well). You can still see this sort of thinking in our country today, when, for example, Barbara Bush says the Hurricane Katrina victims are doing relatively well considering that they come from poverty and are now given temporary shelters and free food. Language is about communication. All words were slang at some point. Get off your high horses.

July 8, 2007 at 10:25 PM  
Blogger scotty said...

The purpose of an official structure is to make it user friendly. That is, making it easier to learn and to teach but there is a divergent idea in language. It is order and/or chaos. The former is a structured system with rules and the latter is free form with constant creation and evolution of guidelines. But the point is to communicate and as long as what is being communicated is understood the purpose has been achieved.

But it can become tedious or annoying to use English because it differs from region to region making it an almost impossible to learn language for use. You can learn it easy enough but trying to use 'book' English will mean that you will not be understood universally.

Words will even be changed in the official language because of misuse by some people. Take the word decimate for instance. This word originally meant to destroy one tenth of the whole. If you had ten boxes and you decimated them you would have only destroyed one of the boxes but it has been changed to mean almost total destruction. This change was made simply because people wouldn't learn to use this word correctly so it was officially changed to suit the lesser versus the greater users of skill with the language.

July 9, 2007 at 3:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the line of thinking that leads to words such as irregardless, guestimate and adicting. Utter nonsense.

July 9, 2007 at 2:39 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Actually, this seems like a reasonable explanation of how language changes. Redundancy can also be annoying. How does "utter nonsense" differ from "nonsense?"

July 9, 2007 at 5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


What you are commenting on is a choice made to provide emphasis. Redundancy can provide added function. Look at a language such as Spanish where redundancy is quite frequent and encouraged or even required.

Made up words created to satisfy individuals who cannot be bothered to investigate and learn proper words does not come under the category of redundancy. They are more aptly labelled as meaningless products of lazy individuals.

I would like to add that I do not encourage the use of words to suppress a class. Unlike colonialists, I would encourage the free and equitable education of all masses so that language can be utilised by all without bastardisation.

July 9, 2007 at 11:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. Chris,

"Utter nonsense" is a colloquialism much like your previous statement regarding getting "off my high horse."

July 9, 2007 at 11:35 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Very well then, please stop sputtering utter nonsense from your colloquial high horse, swimming as it against the current of time, reason, and the white whale of language.

July 9, 2007 at 11:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am probably just beating the drum now but this is too good to pass up.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary has added the word ginormous as an official english word.

This is what should be fought against. This type of word should not be an official word, but remain marked as slang or informal as it is in the Oxford English dictionary. Imagine the atrocities committed by a a dictionary that can be freely edited by the public when a so-called "respected" dictionary publisher lacks the wisdom to prevent the inclusion of words such as ginormous.

July 14, 2007 at 4:32 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Please, continue reading various dictionaries in search of various words that you find troublesome and report back to, um, yourself, as quickly and often as possible.

July 16, 2007 at 3:02 PM  

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