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Thursday December 20, 2018 at 10:37am Age: 186 days
Category: Otisville Elementary, District


Is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis really a word?


Yes, it is!  Otisville Elementary third-graders confirmed this when they were challenged to look up different words, including learning what the dictionary’s longest word is.


Their exercise was part of the Kiwanis Dictionary Project, an annual program run by the Minisink Kiwanis Club since the new Otisville Elementary School opened in 2008.


The Dictionary Project is a charitable organization based in Charleston, South Carolina. Since 1995, it has provided personal copies of a dictionary for third-grade students in the South Carolina public school system. It has grown into a national organization. 


Kiwanis volunteers visited third-grade classrooms and presented the 100 students with new dictionaries for their personal use.  Volunteers, according to Assistant Principal Julia Downey, annually introduce students to the different uses of a dictionary, including part of speech and definitions and who is considered the “creator” of the first dictionary. 


Fun fact: Noah Webster, who once opened and taught at a school in nearby Goshen, was the man who created the first dictionary.  In 1806, he published his first dictionary, "A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language."  In 1807, he began compiling an expanded and fully comprehensive dictionary, “An American Dictionary of the English Language.” It took 26 years to complete. To evaluate the etymology of words, Mr. Webster learned 28 languages. His book contained 70,000 words, of which 12,000 had never appeared in a published dictionary before. 


When he died,  the rights to his dictionary were acquired by George and Charles Merriam in 1843. All contemporary  Merriam-Webster dictionaries trace their lineage to Mr. Webster, and many other companies use his name on dictionaries to make the connection to him.


Otisville third-graders can actually define what pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis means. In case a dictionary isn’t nearby for a personal check, the word refers to a lung disease contracted from the inhalation of very fine silica particles, specifically from a volcano. Medically, it is the same as silicosis.