Everybody's Dictionary (& Other Semantic Debacles)

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G.C. Merriam walked into his boss's office and sighed. "Sir," he said, "we've got a problem. There's pressure coming from all over the darn place, especially from the...Orange House." Merriam chuckled briefly to himself at his witty witticism before continuing. "They want us to revise our definitions of terror, terrorism and terrorist." He looked down at the piece of paper he was holding and added, "And the UN even wants us to change our definition of terrible."

Noah Webster, editor in chief of Everybody's Dictionary, the perennial source of information concerning the form, pronunciation, function, etymology, meaning, and syntactical and idiomatic use of words in the English language, narrowed his eyes to mere slits. Palms pressed together, he formed a steeple with his two index fingers. This development worried him, as it had become an almost everyday occurrence since 9/11 <ALSO: see September 11, 2001; Cognizance of Islam in North America; The Death of a 7-11 Society>. Before that fateful day, governments did not show a modicum of interest in Everybody's Dictionary, Webster thought. Now these hypocrites, whose penchant for hyperbole is only outdone by contemporary media moguls, are all of a sudden concerned about the most recondite definitions? Well, they should have known better than to meddle in the affairs of the world's authority on the English lexicon!

In the years since people <READ: America and its Coalition of the Willing; ALSO: see Moldova, Kazakhstan, Macedonia & Armenia> had watched with horror as commercial airliners were hijacked and subsequently used as civilian missiles, politicians, NGOs, and other assorted public interest groups could not stop taking an interest in the propagation of the English language. Today, there were requests sent to the offices of Everybody's Dictionary asking for revisions to traditionally thorny words like rebel, patriot, freedom and violence. However, there were now also pleas from people to update the meaning of words such as evidence (to "alternative facts") and WMD (to "Warmonger of Mass Destruction").

Initially, Noah Webster had believed the definition of terror as "a state of intense fear; a frightening aspect; a cause of anxiety; or violence committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands" to be more than sufficient. Though he still found that definition adequate, even in today's post-post-Cold War era <MORE at Freezing War era>, there was mounting pressure to review it.

"Specifically, what pariah of society is coming after us now?" Webster asked in a calculated tone of voice that sent shivers of fear up Merriam's spine.

"It's the White House Director of Communications, sir," Webster replied through a dry cough. "They want 'terror' to include 'any unpatriotic act against a Republican government, member of Congress, or relative—deceased or living—of the füh...er...of the President'." He looked down at his notes once more. "Oh, and any Supreme Court Justice that writes with their left hand or favours the left side over the right."

"And what about those donkeys that call themselves Democrats?"

"They were excluded. In addition, we received a telex from the junta in Burma."

"Mr. Merriam, how many times have I told you that we removed the word 'junta' from our dictionary ever since Pinochet switched teams in Chile!"

"Sorry, sir. The legitimate ruling party in Myanmar," Merriam corrected himself, "says that 'terrorist' should include 'any foreign national that despises, aggravates or otherwise laughs at overweight generals in shoddy military attire'."

"Stinking politicians and their mercurial tempers," Webster muttered. He lifted his chin and adjusted his bifocals. "Where do they get off being so contemptuous about our linguistic forays into the darkest corners of the English language!"

"There's also a fax from the Principality of Lichtenstein."

"What do those ruddy land-locked bastards want from us?"

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