John Morse | Quail Ridge Books | Page: Literary Related | Indy Week

Page: Literary Related

John Morse

When: Wed., Jan. 14, 7 p.m. 2015

JOHN MORSE

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 14, RALEIGH

QUAIL RIDGE BOOKS & MUSIC—Should a dictionary document the words people use or stand firm for the words they ought to use—and who decides what the latter are? The answers are political, ideological, ethical, social, historical, sometimes idiosyncratic, sometimes lurid (see 2005 book The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary) and altogether fascinating. Merriam-Webster president John Morse, who must respond to these questions more than philosophically, discusses the making of the modern dictionary at Quail Ridge Books, focusing on the story behind the 1864 edition, when George and Charles Merriam had forged their name with the late Noah Webster's to create an American dictionary as definitive as the OED is across the pond. Word-nerds might warm up with "Authority and American Usage," David Foster Wallace's epic essay on snooty usage fanatics and the vagaries of descriptive and prescriptive lexicography. 7 p.m., free, 3522 Wade Ave., 919-828-1588, www.quailridgebooks.com. Brian Howe

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