Wanderlino Arruda
Djalma Souto


The Dictionary: Father of Scholars

The wise guy that nicknamed the dictionary as “the father of mules” committed a grave injustice to humanity, or at least to the humanity of the Portuguese language. But really, kidding or not, just how many people keep away from the lexicon and avoid consulting it to appear cult and self-sufficient? It’s a shame because a good or even a poor dictionary never did any harm to anyone, but could do the contrary, perhaps helping out a lot. A dictionary is a God-sent auxiliary for anyone, at the moment of clearing up doubts. With it, we can quickly and easily clear up doubts and affirm certainties about orthography and word meanings, always coming to the rescue, like a ray of sunshine on a rainy day. A dictionary, if human, would certainly be considered to be the most intelligent of all teachers.

There are dictionaries for all uses and users in the world today, the most popular being that of synonyms, even the analogical ones, which give all associated ideas, too. There are dictionaries for all needs: grammar, antonyms and synonyms, etymological, proper name dictionaries, of verb conjugation, of pronunciation, of slang, of technical terms, historical, geographical, philosophical, biblical, everything…
It looks crazy, but there is even one for cuss words, edited a couple of years ago, with all the shameless exaggeration that could be possibly expounded in the everyday Portuguese language. I have a dictionary about women of the Bible, another of mythology and still another dealing with difficult points of the Portuguese language.

When someone is very rich, or thinks so, isn’t lucky enough, or doesn’t know how to escape from the hypnotic sales pitch of booksellers, he will buy beautiful dictionaries and encyclopedias, of many volumes, luxurious, appropriate for decorating bookshelves, in the living room, if possible. They are gorgeous outside, golden, brilliant, truly exquisite jewels, marvelous to be seen and touched. On the majority of times, these treasures are kept on the shelf, unused, because the quantity of wisdom contained in these volumes is sometimes so great that the advantages they offer are minimally explored, only to be awakened if they are finally discovered by some school children, who are always ready to copy down anything they find, to rack up a few extra points at the end of the semester. How good it would be if people would use them, as they should be… constantly! And how happy they would be if they started taking advantage of the immense wealth contained inside.

Of course, it is clear that Schools should promote more research, research to be executed with these precious tools of wisdom. This would immediately lead to great gains at the social level of common knowledge of the Portuguese language, as much in orthography as well as in the proper meaning of words. When someone comes to the point of valorizing their language, and shows interest in it, realizing that in every word is contained a universe of life and power, the road to culture is already half walked. The dictionary is a vehicle of individual and collective use, silent, always ready to transport its users to a wonderland of reality and enchantment. Don’t be afraid of using them, during the day or at night. The dictionary is our most generous friend, patiently waiting for us, our Friend and comrade!

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