VIDEO BAR | Under a Bridge with Dick and Harry: Using and Abusing the Dictionary

VIDEO BAR | Under a Bridge with Dick and Harry: Using and Abusing the Dictionary

Under a Bridge with Dick and Harry: Using and Abusing the Dictionary

An illustrated talk by Peter Culley

FRIDAY APR 26, 2013 – 8:30pm -11:59pm

 

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SPOOK: I’ve been in the library reading – it begins with an aardvark and ends with everyone playing the xylophone. Its called “Under a Bridge with Dick and Harry”.
TOP CAT: You dumb cluck, that’s the unabridged dictionary!
SPOOK: I thought it was a bit free form!

The print dictionary has had a quick descent: from indispensable household and office authority to despised and dusty land fill bait. Everyone with a smart phone has a big one in their pocket or purse right now, and spellcheck has become everyone’s never sleeping elementary teacher.

The compiling of new dictionaries is not done by “harmless drudges” but massive mainframes and most will never see cold print. Technology has caught up to the speed of language. But perhaps this forced removal from everyday utility gives us a chance to view the print dictionary as the wondrous and peculiar object it always was. Stripped too of an always questionable authority, its continued existence as riveting free-form narrative, conceptual poem, dream diary, randomness generator and tool of divination is reinforced.

Poet and critic Peter Culley will address not only this rich afterlife but outline a history that stretches from the titanic intellectual labours of Samuel Johnson and James Murray to the fractious “dictionary wars” of the 19th and 20th centuries. He will also display for careful handling rare volumes from his personal collection, and make available dictionaries for all participants free of charge.