The Idiot’s Dictionary – early release

aI mentioned this book previously. Now, releasing it early – I’ll have a hard cover, POD (Print On Demand), for purchase version shortly.

Download The Idiot’s Dictionary.doc

I’ll only say thank you to my niece Gabriella, who painstakingly went over the copy and edited everything. Thank you! Here, I’ve reprinted the short forward (the print book will contain a much longer and well researched essay on the topic of “the dictionary”).

Enjoy and comments, your fav. definitions, welcomed!


About this book

This book was written over 20 years ago, over a few days. A result of my own “Foerster’s Syndrome”, a kind of lexical illness which I suffer gladly. Both an incessant need to pun and an uncontrollable reflex of seeing meaning within words. A kind of inability to see the forest (word) for the trees (the sounds / meanings).

But I’ve lived with it and learned to control it. Still, ever so often, this Jabberwooky, this moloch and primordial beast attacks and I’m back in the land of the idiot’s dictionary ……

I’ve written a lot about the power of words over the years. See my previous book – “The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Teacher” for those. I’ve studied and been influenced by all the creative writers / poets who’ve pushed the frame of reference in which language lives. Valery, Mallarme, Stein, Breton, Borges, Gass, Calvino, e.e. cummings to name just a very, very few. The Gagaism manifesto, born of the same time as the dictionary (at the end of this book) – stands as my own theory of language in the world.


I also must emphasize my own use of the word “dictionary”. This book is my belief that “We, the people” should have control of the language – not the Websters and Murdochs of the world. A dictionary is not a definitive source but rather, an interpretation. This book, my small attempt to put a dent in the prescriptive armor we wear as we walk the world, in the flesh born of “the word”.


I’ll end with this wonderful passionate appeal of McKean for a new kind of dictionary, a new participatory and living dictionary of meaning and metaphor.

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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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