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Written by Callie Labrador
Who says dog means dog? You do, Nicholas. You and me and everyone in this class and this school and this town and this state and this country. We all agree.
But if all of us in this room decided to call that creature something else, and if everyone else did too, then that's what it would be called, and one day it would be written in the dictionary that way. WE decide what goes in that book.
What started out as a time-waster question from Nick elicited this answer from Mrs Granger that ultimately changed his life. Discovering that it was not up to the dictionary publishers to decide what words meant, Mrs Granger's statement about the origin of words lit a fire in Nick and gave him the idea to create a new word himself and to stipulate its meaning. It was Mrs Granger who actually gave him the information that he needed to invent a new word and to encourage its spread through the school.
Well I think the real issue is Mrs Granger's reaction to a harmless little experiment with language.
Mrs Allen is absolutely correct in her observation. If Mrs Granger had not over-reacted to the word frindle, it is probable that only Nick and his circle of friends would have used it and it would have fizzled out after a while. Because she over-reacted by keeping kids behind after school and making them write lines for using the word there became an attraction to using it. When kids were kept after school parents became involved which lead to the wider publicity, so if Mrs Granger hadn't over-reacted none of that would have occurred.
This is a brand new dictionary I recommend that my students use for their homework and now when I teach them how new words are added to the dictionary, I tell each and every one of them to look up the word frindle.
When Nick receives this note from Mrs Granger as a junior in college he realizes that far from wanting to quash his enthusiasm for frindle she was actually rooting for the word to grow in popularity all along. She is proud that her class inspired a new word to be created and relishes using it as a teaching tool to inspire the next Nick Allen. This note enables Nick to see his teacher and the events that occurred in fifth grade in an entirely different light.
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