Finding the #Write #Words? No. 24: Roget’s Thesaurus.

Continuing the description of books on words and language listed in the introductory post, which you’ll find here.

Book 24: Roget’s Thesaurus of English words and phrases (the original):

Hardback, 1254 pages, including 613 pages of ‘index’. First published in 1852 by Peter Mark Roget. Mine is the 1987 new edition published by The Bath Press Ltd after several revisions and enlargements. I bought it new in 1987, to replace an earlier edition I’d ‘worn out’, and I can’t recall what I paid for it, but it was worth every penny! The nearest I can find to my edition is a 1988 version currently available as a used copy for £6.75. However, there is a 2019 Penguin hardback version available new for £23.30. It sports 1296 pages but, despite a fairly comprehensive search and viewing of the reviews, I can’t tell whether this new version follows the presentational style of the original. Certainly, the Kindle version appears to be more or less universally panned for its lack of an index. So, if you want a copy, I’d strongly advise you contact your local bookshop and check the hardback before buying.

Roget’s always has been, and remains, my favourite thesaurus. I love it especially for the index that provides lists synonyms for the word being researched. This is often enough of a search to provide the elusive, precise word I’m seeking. However, the index also leads the seeker to each alternative word presented and provides its placing in the many numbered category subsections. There is also an introductory guide and listing of the many categories, which I’ll try to encapsulate here for those unfamiliar with the style of the book.

Starting with the ‘Tabular synopsis of categories’, at the front of the book, you’ll find six ‘classes’ listed. These are: 1 Abstract relations; 2 Space; 3 Matter; 4 Intellect: the exercise of the mind; 5 Volition: the exercise of the will; and 6 Emotion, religion and morality.

Class six: Emotion, religion and morality, has five subsections: General, Personal emotion, Interpersonal emotion, Morality, and Religion. Each of these contains further subheadings. So, ‘Morality’ has 52 listed word headers grouped under 5 subheadings: Obligation, Sentiments, Conditions, Practice, and Institutions. If I look under ‘Institutions, there are 12 listed word headings as follows: 953 Legality, 954 Illegality, 955 Jurisdiction, 956 Tribunal, 957 Judge, 958, Lawyer, 959 Litigation, 960 Acquittal, 961 Condemnation, 962 Reward, 963 Punishment, and 964 Means of punishment.

I’m seeking a word that describes a specific type of court, but can’t recall what it’s actually called. One route is to go to this Tabular synopsis of categories, look at the classes, and decide ‘class 6’ is most appropriate. Next, I find ‘Morality’ and, under that, the subsection relating to ‘Institutions’, where I discover the term, Tribunal, listed as item 956. This word is in the rough area of the term I’m seeking. I could’ve gone straight to the index and found it there, had the term occurred to me. 

In the index, under ‘Tribunal’, I find ‘council (noun) 692, jurisdiction (noun) 955, and tribunal (noun) 956’. And the latter word seems nearest to the idea of the word or phrase I seek.

Under 956 Tribunal, I find another 112 associated words listed. Among these is ‘Probate Court’, which is the term I’ve been seeking.

I could also have started at the index item under ‘court’, where, among the thirteen alternatives listed is ‘lawcourt – 956’. This, of course, leads me to ‘tribunal’, and thence to ‘Probate Court’.

I use this example because I want to give a flavour of the different ways you can search for a word you just can’t recall. However, in my earlier series on this blog, The Write Word?, where I gave alternatives for many different words, I listed the alternatives for those words as found in Roget’s Thesaurus. To get a better idea of the variety of words provided, please follow this link to the final post, and then use the internal links in the posts to look at any of the individual words I described in the series.

It’s particularly difficult to give a comprehensive guide to the usefulness of this thesaurus without creating a very lengthy text, so please forgive my inadequacy here. In conclusion for this book, I make daily use of Roget’s Thesaurus, have never found another thesaurus that comes near to it for clarity and variety, and have had the book so long, used it so often, the spine is now attached to the front cover with a wide band of Sellotape! I wouldn’t be without this excellent guide.

English is a complex language, made up of words from many countries, and borrows rules of grammar, punctuation and even style from the originating lands, which can make it interestingly familiar to learners but also frequently frustratingly baffling to the same students.

Those learning the English Language will find help on pronunciation here. And you’ll find a friendly group on Facebook through this link.

And, for those with an interest in English and considering their future, here’s a link that suggests the many possible career opportunities open to those with a degree in English. It’s also a link to an online university, and therefore an advert for their services. I know nothing of the institution, but the list of possible career choices might be useful.

Post 2, A Dictionary of Misunderstood Misused Mispronounced Words. Post 3, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. Post 4, A Miscellany for Word Lovers. Post 5, AMERICAN ENGLISH ENGLISH AMERICAN.  Post 6, A Dictionary of Rhyming Slang. Post 7, Brit-think, American-think. Post 8, Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors. Post 9, Collins English Dictionary. Post 10, Current English Usage. Post 11, Descriptionary; a Thematic Dictionary. Post 12, Divided by a Common Language. Post 13, Eats Shoots & Leaves. Post 14, English Prepositional Idioms. Post 15, Fowler’s Modern English Usage. Post 16, Hart’s Rules for Compositors and Readers. Post 17, Hartrampf’s Vocabulary Builder. Post 18, i before e (except after c). Post 19, Longman Companion to English Literature. Post 20, New Hart’s Rules. Post 21, New Nuttall Dictionary of English Synonyms and Antonyms. Post 22, Oxford Compact Thesaurus. Post 23, Oxford Dictionary of Current Idiomatic English.

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