Sunday, March 20, 2005

Lexicography As It Should Be

I don't know what it says about me, but the job described in this New York Times article on lexicographers sounds like the coolest job in the world to me.

To find new words, Ms. McKean said she subscribed to 60 magazines, including The Oldie, a British publication for the elderly; The New Scientist; and Entertainment Weekly. She also watches television shows like "The OC," which she said was known for being linguistically playful. She also relies on her staff, freelancers, a group of four or five people she calls the "friends of the dictionary" and even small talk at cocktail parties.

Let's see ... spend a lot of time reading, watching TV, talking to your friends, and going to cocktail parties. Sounds good to me. Why, oh why, did I go in for lexicography of ancient languages? No magazines written in Paleo-Hebrew; no "linguistically playful" Aramaic TV (at least in the USA); no Syriac small-talk at cocktail parties. Is it too late to change?


Jan-Wim Wesselius said...

Well, if I may speak for myself and count my blessings: reading in the Bible some of the most important and beautiful texts in the world, telling people what is really on those clay tablets, teaching young people and occasionally making them enthusiastic about my discipline, reading some remarkable modern and ancient authors in the original Hebrew or Syriac, and much, much more: if that ain't cool or at least very pleasant, what else is?
When that is your job, you can still read about the fridge of a Central African dictator in the Spectator or about time travelling in the New Scientist, but if you do this reading for a living you can probably not read the Bible in the original languages...
Jan-Wim Wesselius, Theological University of Kampen

EMC said...

Well said, Jan Wim!