CEDAR CITY — If the world didn’t have any dictionaries, how would we know the meaning of words like “nomophobia” or “floccinaucinihilipilification”? You might say that’s why we have smart phones, but if you’re a parent of a young student – or a teacher – you know they’re usually not allowed in school. This is a dilemma many Southern Utah third-graders will never have to answer thanks to a donation by the Cedar City Rotary Club.
Recently, Cedar City Rotarians coordinated with Iron County School District employees to purchase, label and distribute 1,130 dictionaries to every third-grade student in Iron, Beaver and Garfield counties.
In Iron County, 59 students in the Spanish Language Dual Immersion program also received dictionaries in that language.
Each dictionary has a place for the student to print their name and a label with the Rotary’s “Four-Way Test of the Things We Think, Say or Do”: Is it the truth, is it fair to all concerned, will it build goodwill and better friendships and will it be beneficial to all concerned?
The Dictionary Project began locally in 2005 when Diana Graff, a Rotarian and dean of library services at Southern Utah University, introduced the project. She went on to chair the project for nine years. Rotarian Jennifer Wood, former director of secondary education at the Iron County School District, now chairs the project after co-chairing with district Superintendent Shannon Dulaney for two years.
“The students love getting their very own dictionaries,” Wood said. “The first thing they do is find the longest word in it. It is about a paragraph long and has no meaning, at least not to me.”
As an educator, Wood said she loves being involved in the project.
“Giving kids a tool to expand their knowledge is a true pleasure.”
After receiving the dictionaries, every student writes a “thank you” note to Rotary Club members, which Dulaney shares with them at their weekly meeting.
“I am grateful for this ongoing partnership with our local Rotary Club,” Dulaney said. “The students are always so appreciative in their responses.”
So while many in the community have felt nomophobia at one time or another, which is the fear of being without one’s phone, the Cedar City Dictionary Project in Southern Utah will not be taken as floccinaucinihilipilification, or the action of estimating something as worthless.
(The latter is considered the longest nontechnical word in the English language, by the way, It is one letter longer than the commonly cited “antidisestablishmentarianism” and is essentially a string of Latin words meaning nothing: floccus, a wisp; naucum, a trifle; nihilum, nothing; and pilus, a hair.)
Cedar City Rotary Club members buy the dictionaries from The Dictionary Project in Charleston, South Carolina, a nonprofit organization established in 1995 by Mary French. Although it is not a Rotary International project, many of the Utah Rotary clubs deliver dictionaries to third-graders in their areas.
The Cedar City Rotary Club meets on Tuesdays at 12:15 p.m. on the campus of Southwest Technical College, 757 W. 800 South, Cedar City. For more information on becoming a member, email firstname.lastname@example.org.