The success of Dictionary of Strange Words allows its young author, a student from Strasbourg, to offer books to several primary schools

The success of Dictionary of Strange Words allows its young author, a student from Strasbourg, to offer books to several primary schools

In September 2021, a student in Strasbourg published a dictionary of strange words, and he thought of selling a few dozen copies. But since then, his earnings have been so great that he was able to donate books to several elementary schools. He is already putting the finishing touches on a new edition.

Last October, we brought you “Kjokk – Dictionary of French Anomalies”: a work born of the curiosity and perseverance of Mickaël Schauli, a young pedagogical student, from Wolschheim (Bas-Rhin).

From an online game, Bombparty, the 19-year-old discovered a passion for strange, contradictory, or outdated words. His catalyst: Learn that the term Kjökkenmödding (which designates cooking waste from prehistoric European populations) is well referenced in the dictionary.

Quickly, he launched the project of compiling these most extravagant, but formal, words into a specific dictionary. In March 2021, he collected 28 pre-orders, modestly planning to print a few dozen more copies at most.

However, nearly 700 copies were sold. And as of spring, the realized profits exceeded all his hopes. But he did not intend to reap these unexpected gains. For him, who is due to become a teacher in three years, this money was to be used to support some educational projects.

So he called the school group closest to his home. The teachers were able to request books and maps from him, and before the days of Eid he came to distribute them in the classroom and answer many of the students’ questions.

Michael Schole is still amazed by this unexpected success. “I didn’t expect it to come this far, there is so much more than I imagined” trust. Because he remembers his mood last year : At first I said to myself: Who am I to write a dictionary when I don’t know about it?

From the start, he decided that if he could complete his project without losing any feathers, he would keep nothing: I said to myself: If there is a benefit, however small it may be, it is given to the schools and that they benefit from it to the end.

So, when he saw last March and last April that he had already collected close to 2,500 euros, he did not hesitate. He contacted the group of schools closest to his home, the “Autour du Sternenberg” rural education network, which brings together children from the municipalities of Furchhausen, Friedolsheim, Littenheim, Lupstein, Saessolsheim, Waldolwisheim and Westhouse-Marmoutier.

About ten years ago, he himself was still a student in this sector. So he knew ‘Many of these schools’ even Some teachers. During the meeting, he was able to explain his project to the teachers involved, inviting them to make their own little list to Santa Claus.

desires were “Very diverse: generally books in groups, one for each student. Reading books, documentaries, dictionaries …” Preferred one category geographic maps. The young student took an interest in purchases, “A total of 170 books and 5 maps.” Then they have them “Back to schools, to spend time with students.”

Every time, this meeting time “It was awesome” By the author of “Kjokk”. “The children had a lot of questions: How many definitions are there? How do you write a definition?” is the details.

Related questions of his own. Because while he was obviously taking inspiration from pre-existing dictionaries, he had to write each definition himself, in his own sentences, to avoid any plagiarism.

“It was very interesting to explain this to elementary school students” Smile. “Even a few adults are interested in how a dictionary is made. A dictionary has always represented a form of ultimate knowledge, and we don’t think that behind that, there is something human and very long work. So, being able to make young people realize that this is extraordinary.”

Furthermore, Mikkel Shuli has received support from the Ministry of Culture. in Strasbourg, “by accident”, He met with the new Minister of Culture, Rima Abdel-Malik. I was able to talk to her and she congratulated me on my book. rejoice.

A little earlier, the General Delegate for French and the Languages ​​of France, Paul de Sainte, received the young student in Paris. a ‘A truly unexpected success’ Who is he “Very fun. It’s moral support and good insight” he thinks. “If I need a certain skill, they can put me in touch with the right people.”

After 600 hours of work demanded by “Kjokk”, Mickaël Schauli was taken prisoner in October 2021 to France 3 Alsace by not being ready to write the second volume. But in the meantime, with encouragement from the ministry and those around him, he changed his mind. Not for a sequel, but for a fairly rich reissue.

Initially, this version 2 “Kjokk” was planned “Before Christmas”. But thanks to the experience gained, the work is progressing faster than expected, and it is assumed that it will appear already in the fall. 700 new definitions It will be added to 2000 from the first version, ie 60 to 70 more pages.

In addition, “Old definitions have been revised and corrected, for those in which small errors remain.” And the young writer makes promises “New little articles at the end, with informal words in dictionaries, such as city names, or words denoting phobias.” In summarizing, “Not much” but “Better too.”

And then? Now that he’s already addicted to his words like no other, Mickaël Schauli plans to regularly get his dictionary back on the job. At least as long as his schedule allows him to.

“The project will be to revise the existing tariffs every year, and to add new ones, to make it an increasingly complete work over the years.” He explains. Just to get, at the end of the day, a dictionary “Almost inclusive, with all the words we don’t know.”

His first contacts, very enriching, with elementary school classes had given him another clue. “I imagined that perhaps, one day, I could do a year-round project, where students would be involved in editing a dictionary or a book. It would show them the process of making the best.”

‘It’s just an idea’ would like to explain. “But I think about it very strongly.” Given the way his first idea, an intuitively silly one, came to fruition in about a year, it’s easy to imagine that she, too, has every chance of succeeding one day.

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