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08-Mar-2015 10:47

But my lifetime love affair with the OED is at risk. " You know the sort of thing; those of us who have survived for years without a mobile phone have to put up with it all the time.

The sixth edition has just been published and - I feel a small shudder as I write these words - it has fallen victim to fashion. Indeed, you may well have functioned perfectly well until now spelling leapfrog without a hyphen. My old friend Amanda Platell, who graces these pages on Saturdays, has an answerphone message that says the caller may leave a message but she'd Of course it should.

They are as close to my heart as they are to my desk because they are so much more than a useful tool.

It is the relentless onward march of the texters, the SMS (Short Message Service) vandals who are doing to our language what Genghis Khan did to his neighbours eight hundred years ago. The texters have many more arrows in their quiver than we who defend the old way. My own outgoing message asks callers to be very brief - ideally just name and number - but that doesn't stop some callers burbling on for ten minutes and always, always ending by saying: "Ooh - sorry I went on so long!They are destroying it: pillaging our punctuation; savaging our sentences; raping our vocabulary. " But can that be any more irritating than those absurd little smiley faces with which texters litter their messages?A good dictionary is a fine thing - I yield to no man in my love for one.If I stretch out my right arm as I type, I can pluck from my shelves the two volumes of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.

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It's partly the physical sensation - the feel and smell of good paper - and partly the minor triumph of finding the word you seek, but it's rare to open a dictionary without being diverted somewhere else.

Scroll down for more The eye falls on a word you've never seen before or one whose meaning you have always wanted to check, and you close the dictionary just a little bit richer for the experience.