The Friday Fillip

As you’ll see on Slaw, I’m on about pictures again today — whether they’re worth a certain number of words, how exactly they marry (or not) with language. I suspect my occasional fascination with images has to do with the fact that I spend much of my time swimming in words, stroking for meaning; for those who, like me, are immersed in verbiage it’s important, I think, to pay attention to the visual field and to music as well, so that we are regularly reminded that wordy meaning is only one sort, and perhaps not the most powerful kind at that.

The fillip today lies explicitly on the juncture between words and pictures: it’s an online visual dictionary. The Photographic Dictionary pairs a photo with a definition to add that certain je ne sais quoi to meaning. Here, for example, is the entry for the word “stuck” (somewhat cropped to fit; click on the image to see the full photo):

Over a hundred photographers have contributed to the dictionary — there’s a list on the site, with links to the individuals’ own sites — from all over the world; and the dictionary is still accepting submissions, so let’s see which Slaw reader can provide the best photo of “law,” currently in the lacuna between “lavender” and “lazy.”

As you might have wished, the site itself is lovely: simple, clean and elegant, well worth a visit for that reason alone. So enjoy and think about what a photographic legal dictionary might look like. Might be fun to do one here at Slaw.


  1. I find the photo chosen for “library” to be slightly odd:

  2. I personally think a photographic legal dictionary would be a wonderful project for Slaw. I’m already trying to think of ways to visually represent “volenti non fit injuria” and “omnia praesumuntur contra spoliatorem”…but perhaps an easier place to start would be the equitable “clean hands” principle.