Posted By P & L Blog

Dictionaries

There is no official body that governs how we use English, unlike some other languages.  There are "rules" that we learn in school, but how we speak and spell is based on arbitrary reasons which evolved over time. 

Before 1604 when the first English dictionary appeared, the spelling of even simple words wasn't standardized, and there were regional variations.  Today, Google's spelling correction provides suggestions based on what other users have entered; it doesn't match words to an actual dictionary. 

So what is the role of dictionaries 400 years later: do they exist to confirm how we use English, or to teach us proper usage? 

 

 
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