A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:
Or perhaps more precisely, Madmen of Words. If you like to read, you probably like words. I love words, all kinds of words. But I care very much that they are used correctly. When one is writing, the best way to ensure one is using any word correctly is to refer to a reference book for words, such as a dictionary or thesaurus.
In these days of computers and databases, we all take reference materials like dictionaries and thesauri for granted, assuming they are easy to compile and publish. They are, after all, just lists of words, right? However, even in these days of powerful data management technology, the compilation and maintenance of word reference materials is quite demanding and labor-intensive. How much more so was it in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when all of the work must be done by hand, much of it by candle light. And yet, for three of the major monuments of word reference in the English language, we are indebted to the tenacious efforts of three men who suffered psychological problems, one of them so severe he was actually confined in a mental institution for much of his life. But in spite of their handicaps, they all persevered to produce word references essential to anyone who writes, to this very day.
Just who were these "Madmen of Words?"
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