Word Traveler: Dictionary Day!
Dictionary Day honors Noah Webster's contributions to lexicography. Noah Webster was born on October 16, 1758, in West Hartford, Connecticut. Noah Webster's was an average colonial family with his father farming and working as a weaver. Noah became an educator and author of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, best known for his American Dictionary of the English Language and Blue-Backed Speller (1783). By 1850, when the total population of the United States was less than 23,200,000, the annual sales of Webster's spelling book were about 1,000,000 copies, and the figures increased yearly. After his Compendious Dictionary was published in 1806, he worked on the unabridged The American Dictionary of the English Language (1828), which included definitions of 70,000 words, of which 12,000 had not appeared in such a work before. The dictionary's sales reached 300,000 annually. This work, Webster's foremost achievement, helped to standardize American pronunciation. He also worked for the establishment of a distinctive American version of the English language; for example, he insisted on spellings like center and color instead of the British centre and colour. Dictionary Day reminds us to use dictionaries daily!