McKean argues that most online dictionaries are simply “paper thrown up on a screen.” She acknowledges that some web sites enable users to submit words but feels that they are “not scientific enough. They show the word, but they don’t show any context. Where did it come from? Who said it? What newspaper was it in? What book?”
Compare several online dictionaries and word-collecting sites. Which are the best in your opinion? What features are most interesting, innovative, and/or helpful? Create a set of reviews, and share it with your classmates via your school’s web site, newspaper, or another means. Candidates include:
Macmillan Dictionary http://www.macmillandictionary.com/
Cambridge Dictionaries Online http://dictionary.cambridge.org/
Merriam-Webster Visual Dictionary Online http://visual.merriam-webster.com/
Wordnik (the dictionary McKean founded) http://www.wordnik.com/
McKean believes that the Internet can support a “citizen science” approach to lexicography, enabling a large community of users to spot and document “un-dictionaried” words. Working together with classmates, begin a list of “un-dictionaried” words that you notice in media reports, TV shows, song lyrics, and everyday conversations around you.
Erin McKean’s “The Word” columns inThe Boston Globe http://www.boston.com/search/?s.tab=globe&s.largeMap=&s.sm.query=Erin+McKean&s.ypsearch=&s.yplocation=&when=&qf=&qn=&qc=&qs=&s.town=&s.si%28simplesearchinput%29.sortBy=-articleprintpublicationdate&s.dateRange=