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Let’s Expand Our Vocabularies This National Dictionary Day!

opening a book

How we can have some fun this National Dictionary Day.

National Dictionary Day is an occasion every October 16th and it coincides with Noah Webster’s birthday.  Noah Webster is widely considered the “Father of American Scholarship and Education,” for his creation of the first American language dictionary in 1828. Webster is famous for creating the Americanized spelling that we continue to use today.

In honor of this National Dictionary Day, here are some interesting facts about Webster’s dictionary.

  • It took Webster 22 years to complete his American Dictionary of the English Language. However, there was a good reason for this delay.  Throughout the process, Webster learned 26 different languages, including Sanskrit, Ancient Greek, and Old English.
  • Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language spanned two volumes and contained 70,000 entries, making it the biggest dictionary ever written. Amazingly, half the words included in his dictionary had never been included in an English dictionary before.
  • Webster used his dictionary to promote spelling reform. While some suggestions, like removing the “u” from words like “honour” and “colour” were well received, not all his spellings were popularized.  Some of his unsuccessful suggestions include removing the “b” from “thumb,” the “e” from “give” and the “s” from “island.”
  • The publication of Webster’s dictionary led to a change in copyright laws. In 1831, Webster was invited to the White House by President Andrew Jackson to give a lecture to the House of Representatives.  While he was there, Webster lobbied to change the current copyright law that only protected writers’ work for 14 years.  The subsequent Copyright Act of 1831 extended this protection to 28 years.
  • When he was growing up very few individuals went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree. He was fortunate that his parents were able to send him to Yale, Connecticut’s first college. He left for New Haven in 1774 when he was 16 and graduated in 1778. Webster wanted to continue his education by studying law, but his parents could not afford to give him more money for school.
  • Webster is consider an American lexicographer, textbook pioneer, English-language spelling reformer, political writer, editor, and prolific author. He has been called the “Father of American Scholarship and Education.” His “Blue-backed Speller” books taught five generations of American children how to spell and read.

Join us at The Maria Sanchez Show as we celebrate Noah Webster and his work on National Dictionary Day.  Don’t forget to check out our latest program, Shadow Politics with Senator Michael D. Brown.  Tune in on Sundays at 4:00 p.m. PDT/7:00 p.m. EDT.

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