The Insufficiency of the Dictionary
There are four hundred-seventy thousand words in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary. The Oxford English Dictionary has a similar number. Many linguists estimate that the total English vocabulary, counting commonly used words from other languages, scientific terms, and colloquialisms, could range from 600,000 to a million words or more. The average English-speaking adult knows around 40,000 words and uses up to 20,000 regularly. Think about that for a moment.
My topic this afternoon is focused on an almost inexplicable phenomenon that has been around and in use since the dawn of time. It makes no sense and yet it’s a very reasonable force. We call this puzzle the Butter-Cat Scenario.
We find ourselves once more at a place we cannot understand, and yet all find a nameless peace in. An empty road lit by a row of dimly glowing lampposts, a gust of wind in the treetops on a cloudy evening, sparks drifting from the fire and dancing among the stars. Here we can forget what was, set aside what we think to be the future, and through these peculiarities, we can remember what we already know is beyond tomorrow, a voiceless urge in the storm saying, “Just a little further, just around the bend, then comes the final rest.”
Once some young philosophers
Had all gathered in Athens
And into their midst walked one
An old thinker named Euclens
To the band he did parry
A riddle and then questions: