Wednesday, March 18, 2009

If the dictionary says it, it's true

It's curious and amusing how the slightest, tiniest little change in a dictionary, even an important and renown one, can stir people like the predictable sheep they are. Merriam-Webster, one of the most popular dictionaries in the English world, caused a minor controversy when they included the same-sex variant as a definition for "marriage" in their print and online versions of the reference book.

In its online and print editions, Merriam-Webster still defines marriage as "the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law."

But in a nod to evolving ideas of love and English usage, the Springfield, Mass.-based company in 2003 added a secondary meaning for "marriage" as "the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage."

It goes without saying the "stirrup" was itself caused by self-righteous conservatives who just won't-won't-WON'T! accept Gay Marriage to enter their overbaked little minds. In particular, it was an article from World Nut Net Daily:

"One of the nation's most prominent dictionary companies has resolved the argument over whether the term 'marriage' should apply to same-sex duos or be reserved for the institution that has held families together for millennia: by simply writing a new definition," the online publication said late Tuesday.

[My emphasis]

Notice the underlined descriptions of Gay ("same-sex duos") and "Normal" ("institution that has held families together for millennia") Marriage ... Yeah, no bias there.

As the dictionary's spokesman Arthur Bicknell pointed out, slightly confused and surprised, they certainly aren't the first major dictionaries to be adding the same-sex variant to "Marriage", but that's probably because Merriam-Webster is likely the biggest and most reputable of them all, I suppose. Sure, you often hear of Random House and American Heritage dictionaries, but I do think you'll agree Merriam-Webster tends to be the most prominent in any case.


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