I take it back, not all dictionaries are bad. Without a word of a lie, not half an hour after I posted a piece about dictionaries and how over-rated they can be, a book (an unsolicited one I might add) landed on my desk which made me wonder whether dictionaries really can be useful after all. I’m a little hesitant to say what this book is about partly because I know I will be swamped by dozens of comment spammers offering me all manner of filth and potions, and partly because I don’t think anyone will believe me. It’s a dictionary of sex terms. Honestly, you couldn’t make it up.
Respected German publisher of dictionaries Langenscheidt has teamed up with leading “sexperts” Erika Berger and Lilo Wanders to give us its latest novelty dictionary, “Langenscheidt Sex-Deutsch/Deutsch-Sex” – a pocket-sized, 128 page dictionary explaining the various terms and jargon one might encounter. All I can say is that – sweet and innocent soul that I am – it very nearly turned my hair white reading all of those dirty words. Now it’s written in German but if heavy metal is a good reason to learn a new language, then carnal gymnastics might be too. Without going into too much detail for obvious reasons, it explains things like how the word “English” in Germany is used as a euphemism for S&M and what “Pornflakes” and “Clinton Monogamy” are – I won’t write it for fear of traumatising those of a more sensitive disposition.
In fairness, it’s a tiny little book and it’s probably not enough to corrupt the youth of our nation (no, hold on, it might actually) but – and this is important – it does actually perform a public service. Can you imagine trying to find translations and definitions for various coitus-related concepts for yourself? No matter how legitimate and pure your intentions, typing these words into Google will open up a whole world of nastiness right there on your monitor. Get it wrong and you could end up unemployed, divorced or on some sort of register.
So yes, dictionaries can be useful but more than that, they can be quite funny too.