Prentiss Riddle: Books

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God told me to buy this book

Years before I ever learned any German I craved a Duden Bildwörterbuch, that massively detailed picture dictionary for grownups.

So I was standing in Half Price Books with a 1958 edition in my hands wondering whether it was worth three bucks and two linear inches of shelf space. I opened it at random to this page:

Duden Bildwörterbuch - Kloster

Then I caught a glimpse of another customer out of the corner of my eye. I did a double-take and saw that he was dressed approximately like this:

Duden Bildwörterbuch - Mönche

I took it as an omen and bought the book.

books 2005.01.17 link

Comments

I love picture dictionaries; I have a couple of bilingual J/E edictions, one by Dorling-Kindersley. These are mostly just fun, but occasionally really come in handy.

Adam Rice [adamrice cxe crossroads punkto net] • 2005.01.17
Yes, some others have passed through my hands as well, particular a Gujarati picture dictionary for children which was invaluable.

Funny that pictorial dictionaries, which are so precise and noun-oriented, should be full of semantic minefields, but I find that they are. If I pick one up in English and it says that a certain part of a large piece of mechanical equipment is a Fooblastic Barticulated Widgetron, it's pretty much guaranteed that it was only called that on a particular model in common use in Wales in 1973 and that modern ones don't look like that anyway. I'm sure that's more of a problem for manufactured goods than for biological and anatomical terms or references to cultural items with some antiquity -- but I'll bet you could get in trouble with, say, breeds of dogs or medieval weaponry, too. A pictorial definition is inherently specific and has trouble defining a set of not necessarily identical items the way a verbal definition can.

Prentiss Riddle [riddle cxe io punkto com] • 2005.01.18
How wonderful. Serendipity indeed.

Ryan Schultz (Quiplash) [quiplash cxe gmail punkto com] • 2005.01.18
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