Through Rohan over fen and field where the long grass growsThe West Wind goes walking and about the walls it goes.What news from the West, oh wandering wind, do you bring to me tonight?Have you seen Boromir the Tall by moon or by starlight?‘I saw him ride over seven streams, over waters wide and grey;I saw him walk in empty lands, until he passed awayInto the shadows of the North. I saw him then no more.The North Wind may have heard the horn of the son of Denethor.’Oh, Boromir! From the high walls westward I looked afar.But you came not from the empty lands where no men are.From the mouth of the sea the South Wind flies,From the sand hills and the stones;The wailing of the gulls it bears and at the gate it moansWhat news from the South, oh sighing wind, do you bring to me at eve?Where now is Boromir the Fair? He tarries and I grieve.‘Ask me not where he doth dwell--so many bones there lieOn the white shores and on the black shores under the stormy sky;So many have passed down Anduin to find the flowing sea.Ask of the North Wind news of them the North Wind sends to me!’Oh Boromir! Beyond the gate the Seaward road runs South,But you came not with the wailing gulls from the grey seas mouth.From the Gate of Kings the North Wind rides,And past the roaring fallsAnd loud and cold about the Tower its loud horn calls.What news from the North, oh mighty wind, do you bring to me today?What news of Boromir the Bold? For he is long away.‘Beneath Amon Hen I heard his cry. There many foes he foughtHis cloven shield, his broken sword, they to the water brought.His head so proud, his face so fair, his limbs they laid to rest;And Rauros, Golden Rauros Falls, bore him upon its breast.’Oh Boromir! The Tower of Guard shall ever northward gazeTo Rauros, Golden Rauros Falls until the end of days.
J.R.R. Tolkien
FV: Annandale defines 'definition' as an explanation of the signification of a term. Yet Oxford, on the other hand, defines it as a statement of the precise meaning of a word. A small, perhaps negligible difference you might think. And neither, would you say, is necessarily more correct than the other? But now look up each of the words comprising each definition and then the definitions of those definitions and so on. Some still may only differ slightly, while others may differ quite a lot. Yet any discrepancy, large or small, only compounds that initial difference further and further, pushing each 'definition' farther apart. How similar are they then at the end of this process...assuming it ever would end? Could we possibly even be referring to the same word by this point? And we still haven't considered what Collins here...or Gage, or Funk and Wagnalls might have to say about it. Off on enough tangents and you're eventually led completely off track.ML: Or around in circles.FV: Precisely!ML: Oxford, though, is generally considered the authority, isn't it?FV: Well, it's certainly the biggest...the most complete. But then, that truly is your vicious circle - every word defined...every word in every definition defined...around and around in an infinite loop. Truly a book that never ends. A concise or abridged dictionary may, at least, have an out...ML: I wonder, then, what the smallest possible complete dictionary would be? Completely self-contained, that is, with every word in every definition accounted for. How many would that be, do you suppose? Or, I guess more importantly, which ones?FV: Well, that brings to mind another problem. You know that Russell riddle about naming numbers?
Mort W. Lumsden