It can be the easiest mistake to slip into, that regular use of the same word when writing a blog and I'm always looking for different ways to say 'brilliant' or ' treat' or ' interesting' if only to make life and language more varied this end, but really I have a feeling you all spot those regular repetitions too.
So when I was offered a copy of the new two volume Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary from Oxford University Press it seemed folly to say no because it's likely to be the first and last time I place quite such a valuable book on my shelves, but more importantly because its value is immeasurable in other ways.
This might not be a book you ask for in your Christmas stocking either unless you are a shoe size 30 or above; the stocking just won't cope and the bed post is likely to snap or you'll pull the mantelpiece off the wall because they are stunningly heavy, but good to know (or hope) that they might be in your local library.
Once you get past the idea that a book is an object of such beauty that it surely has to be too precious to lay a finger on, there's something awe-inspiring about holding in your hand ... well metaphorically that is, the Levenger book pillow is doing sterling work on the desk...
holding, touching, reading and using the culmination of a project started in the 1960s to take every word in the 20 volume Oxford English Dictionary and
'map them onto a vast classification structure, so that words with similar meanings would be grouped together,'
As if that wasn't enough to be going on with the scholars then
'undertook to arrange words according to their history: in any category or sub-category, the oldest words appear first, while those that have entered the language most recently are shown last.'
Forty years and many hundreds of thousands of person hours later the completed work contains nearly 800,000 meanings, organized into more than 236,000 categories and sub-categories.
Phew, this is truly phenomenal and to see it is quite a humbling experience.
There it is, on my desk, access to every word I could ever wish for.
I've been dipping into another book, this one entitled On the Death and Life of Language by Claude Hagege and published by Yale University Press and though I hadn't thought languages were quite my subject, since the Big Book of Words has arrived I'm becoming increasingly curious. I don't think it is something I had ever even considered before but currently there are 5000 languages and by 2100 there will only be 2,500; twenty-five languages die each year representing a huge cultural loss.
'As crucial repositories of culture, languages give permanence to traditions, proverbs and knowledge of our ancestors and survive the transience of speech.'
In the light of that how significant that cover then becomes.
Claude Hagege focuses on the regeneration of Hebrew as a modern language, tracing its history over the course of the twentieth century and considering what has contributed to its rebirth but also examining Cornish, Gaelic, Yiddish and Creole .
'Cornish was a victim of the reformation and began an irreversible decline. It had almost completely died out by 1800.'
By the end of the nineteenth century Cornish was making a bit of a comeback apparently, a grammar was recreated and a vocabulary adapted for contemporary use. A mere 1000 to 1500 people now speak Cornish fluently but it is cited as a remarkable achievement by Claude Hagege.
And there's me living five hundred yards away and didn't know that either.
I'm a terrible one, as you know, for inventing a word to fit my purpose which is all down to slogardy and I really must raccomode all that to mine own encherishing. It will certainly be conducive to my halesomeness and I will be seeking an operatorious use of language in the future but will try not to look to greenery-yallery in the process.
More about the second parcel from OUP containing the equally impressive two volume Oxford Companion to the Book very soon, as you can see I've had to dedicate a special shelf which sits just behind my left shoulder.