I do not know if there still is this contest. But years ago they had this contest sponsored by National Book Store and essay contest about My favorite book. I never did enter that contest but if I did I already know then what was my favorite book … the dictionary,
A dictionary is basically your printed database of words or ideas. Arranged alphabetically hopefully with index tabs = so you can easily get the information you want. It comes Lilliputian and Brobdingnagian. Un abridged and abridged, Webster or Oxford, Hard Boand, soft bound or pulp.
I am not sure if you can call a dictionary an abcedary, which is defined in a dictionary as a book containing knowledge arranged in alphabetical order. A Bestiary would be a fine example whee you would find a Basilisk going before a Chimera or a Griffin but not an Aardvark. It is not a Grimoire, books of magics (literally Grammar Books) most famous of which would be the key of Solomon and the Lesser Key of Solomon also called Lemegeton.
But a dictionary is a powerful book.
It is more than a repository or words or annotations of the different native tongues. It is a treasure trove of ideas and culture. There are encyclopedic, biographical, geographical, literary and mythological dictionaries.
There dictionary of the proper, slang and archaic words. There are dictionaries of euphemisms and those that the compare the difference between an electric torch or flashlight; a holiday and vacation; a resume and a curriculum vitae. In some a private school is actually public and a public school is private.
Some also tend to shed light on the changing nature of language. Where cute before is not cute as we know but something more clever and shrewd.
Dictionaries can also be a compilation of wits and comments displayed in an organized manner. The most of famous of these satirical dictionaries was written by Ambrose Bierce, who while observing the forcs of Pancho Villa in Mexico disappeared from the face of the Earth. Ambrose Bierce’s dictionary is one of ,y favorite dictionaries. A publishe a long long long time ago – originally entitled The Cynic’s Word Book in 1906 it was published as The Devil’s Dictionary in 1911.
The objectionable case of I. The personal pronoun in English has three cases, the dominative, the objectionable and the oppressive. Each is all three.
To lay the foundation for a future offence.
A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic. This dictionary, however, is a most useful work.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary