Last week while I was reading through the first ten pages of a chapter from a PhD thesis, I came across the word judgement. Since the piece was written in American English, my first thought was that the –e has to go. The moment I made this conclusion was the same moment doubt set in – both judgment and judgement are perfectly fine. Because the –e has no function pronunciation wise, I figured that the variant with the –e must be RP (Received Pronunciation). Again I doubted as I was pretty sure I’d seen the –e less variant in RP, too. However, I wasn’t asked to edit the text so I could’ve left it as it was and continued reading, but that just doesn’t do it for me (although I wish I could, now and again.)
Half Forgotten and Dust Catching
I first checked the Internet, which is usually the quickest. I did get hits but the top four results didn’t give me the answer I was looking for. Not in the mood of giving it another try, I went for my OED (Oxford English Dictionary) hardcopy. Looking back, I could have gone to the OED website as well, but at least I used my half forgotten dust catching dictionary again.
The entry was far more interesting than I had imagined. Besides the definition and origin, it had a little grey box with the information I was hoping it would have:
The entry reminded me of what the dictionary offered besides the definitions. I stopped reading the ten pages and instead leafed through the dictionary looking at the grey boxes. Take, for example, prime minister:
What are the chance of my ever using this information? Not much. But the chance of my remembering this – quite likely.
This was one of my favourites I read that afternoon (especially the last sentence):
Besides the grey boxes, it had never occurred to me that the OED had appendices about the PMs of Britain; the presidents of America; the periodic table or even emoticons. I ended up spending my afternoon reading a dictionary for fun.