Linguist David Crystal has some interesting thoughts on dictionaries (doubtless not uninfluenced by the fact that he serves on the advisory committee for the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English). He says, for instance, that you should buy new dictionaries “as often as you change your car… I would never rely on a dictionary if it’s more than five years old.”
According to Crystal, English vocabulary is developing faster than other areas of the language. The latest Longman edition contains about 3,000 additions since the previous one, which was released in 1995.
“English itself has borrowed words from almost every other language in the world,” said Crystal, who refers to the English language as “a vacuum cleaner of languages.”
Stopping the process of globalization would be the only way to stop English words from influencing local languages, Crystal said. He said that people should realize that “when you borrow words from another language, it adds to the expressive richness of your own language, giving a dimension which the language did not have before.”
Therefore, he recommended taking advantage of what he called “the typhoon of vocabulary,” pointing out, however, “You have to be in control of the language all the time.”
“In schools and in universities,” he said, “tell the child… what’s happening to the language. Get them to talk about the language.”
He finishes up with some thoughts on text-messagisms like “C U l8r,” which he seems to view with a kindly eye. (Via Taccuino di traduzione.)