13 September 2007

Why isn't 'dipslay' in the dictionary?

Come now, Messrs Oxford, Webster, Collins et al. Why isn't the word 'dipslay' in your dictionaries? Anyone who has worked as a tech writer would be extremely familiar with this commonly used word. And although it's not to be found in dictionaries, almost everyone would know what it means. I have often used the word in conversation with other tech writer friends, appreciating its clumsy yet beguiling naivety. I'm clearly not the only one, as a quick Google search shows 18,000 occurrences of the word on the web, despite the fact that spell-checkers tend to insidiously target it.

So how can you have a word added to a dictionary? Unfortunately you can't just send it in to Merriam-Webster and have them list it. To quote from their website FAQ:

...the selection of which words to include in the dictionary is not based on personal preferences or popularity-contest-style votes; it is based on usage. Simply put, to gain entry to the dictionary, a word must be widely used in a broad range of professionally written and edited materials over an extended period of time. Any word that has sufficiently widespread use in such publications is eligible for dictionary entry.

On that basis, dipslay is surely a shoe-in. It occurs in a gazillion professionally written and edited manuals, several of them, no doubt, written and edited by me.

So, esteemed fellow travellers in the blogosphere, let's help raise dipslay to its rightful place in the dictionaries by using it as often as possible. Perhaps it can become the first typo officially recognised as a word in its own right, a title it surely deserves more than the much more commonplace but rather vulgar 'teh'.
Go to eebahgum!

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