Empty Days

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Your browser as a dictionary

I've tweaked my Opera 6.05 browser (antiquated but light) to allow for double-click dictionary definitions on those hairy words I constantly run across in webpages. This is great. In fact, Opera has this feature built-in but the dictionary they chose to point to is so packed with graphics it's been basically a pain you know where just opening the page. So I tweaked the goddam thing to point to the very ungraphic One-Look dictionary - which is a portal to about two dozen different online word-factories (in case some word is *really* hairy) and ever since I've been double-clicking like mad. I expect my working vocabulary will rise dramatically as a result of this felicitous tweak. [ "felicitous"? and that's the correct spelling too :-0 ]

Words I learned yesterday: "hairy" and "gnarly" (slang).

Opera also has double-click translation feature for 5 languages (German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese). The last two beat me - because I can't possibly read Japanese or Portuguese pages. I guess if I were really in the mood I could tweak this too for some other languages and some other dictionaries, but it's extremely rare that I need one-word translations while surfing.

Perhaps it's because I have not developped a habit for it - sometimes there are things I don't do simply because I am not used to doing them, but it doesn't mean it wouldn't be a good idea to do them (vast implications here). The truth is however: I can't really read pages in German or Spanish, and I rarely visit French sites at all. So what's the point? Not very cosmopolitan of me, but that's how it is.

Nevertheless, here's a helpful site I just found: Lexicon of foreign words in philosophy texts (it doesn't have Schaudenfreude). I had to look for "lapsus pennae" on Google because none of the One-Look dictionaries had it - they all had "lapsus calami" instead. I wonder why - sometimes the use of Latin phrases differs depending on the national culture. Perhaps "lapsus pennae" is more current in German (philosophy texts indeed), while the English preferred usage is "lapsus calami". The meaning is the same though. What makes it to your local dictionary and what doesn't is a matter of statistics.

[ this is not at all what I was planning to blog about - still trying to recover that disappearing thought ]





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