Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mr. Webster!

Today is the 250th anniversary of Noah Webster's birth. Where would writers and teachers of English be without the American Dictionary of the English Language? I can't help but wonder what Webster would have thought of dictionaries embedded into slim machines that weigh less than the tome he wrote and published.

Webster was more than just a eminent lexicographer (how's that for a 50 cent word!) Before he wrote his famous dictionary, he wrote a speller that had 385 editions in his lifetime and, according to Wikipedia, taught children how to read, spell, and pronounce words. "It was the most popular American book of its time; by 1861, it was selling a million copies per year, and its royalty of less than one cent per copy was enough to sustain Webster in his other endeavors."

Aspiring writers be encouraged! Webster supported himself on a book that earned a penny a copy…and become a national treasure that is still used two centuries later.

And who hasn't suffered the embarrassment, sweaty palms, and knotted stomach of a classroom or school-wide spelling bee? Thank Mr. Webster for that too.

This week, Anu Garg, the wordsmith behind A Word A Day, is honoring Webster with words about words. Today is Dictionary day. Celebrate Webster and words by playing The Dictionary Game!

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1 comment:

Maupin House said...

Great post! As a fellow linguaphile and lover of word games, I'd like to suggest another way to celebrate Mr. Webster's birthday and wordy contributions:

http://www.freerice.com/

Warning: It's addictive...but it's for a good cause!