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Critical Essay on The Deeper Meaning of Liff by Douglas Adams

The Deeper Meaning of Liff is one of the less known works of a famous humoristic sci-fi author, the creator of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In this work he enters an unusual area of dictionary compiling, although this is a very specific dictionary. As he himself states, there are a lot of things, ideas, concepts and experiences in this world, which do not have any specific words denoting them; and there are thousands of words that do nothing but wasting their time on signposts and pointing at places. This means that, naturally, both oversights could and should be rectified.

The Deeper Meaning of Liff is, indeed, a dictionary, every entry of which is a name of some place accompanied with a description of an idea that is commonly known, yet still doesn’t have a word of its own. In fact, the Deeper Meaning of Liff is a kind of enhanced edition of an earlier book, The Meaning of Liff and contains about twice as many dictionary entries as its predecessor.

And, probably, it wasn’t a very wise decision to release an expanded edition, for, although there are a lot of really witty and funny definitions in it, very often one has no idea of what is supposed to be the cream of the joke here and there, and many entries are just redundant, redirecting to other definitions and not having a lot of sense of their own.

However, in general, in this book we have an interesting example of the results of a language game, and a lot of definitions really deserve to be remembered.

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