The Ring of Words

The Ring of Words : Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary

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The Ring of Words describes the powerful and unique relationship between Tolkien's creative use of the English language in his fictional works and his professional work on the Oxford English Dictionary. Tolkien's earliest employment was as an assistant on the staff of the OED, and he later said that he had 'learned more in those two years than in any other equal period of [his] life'. Here three authors, themselves senior editors of the OED, engage directly with Tolkien's language and his fictional world. Two discursive sections explore Tolkien as a lexicographer and his creativity as a word user and creator. The main section of the book is made up of individual 'word studies' which explore over 100 words found in Tolkien's fiction in terms of their origins, development, and significance in his fictional world. Words such as 'hobbit', 'attercop', 'precious', 'Smeagol', and 'waybread' are explored in fascinating detail. The Ring of Words offers a new and unexplored angle on the creative world of one of our most famous and well-loved writers, presenting new archive material for the first time.

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  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 127 x 193.04 x 15.24mm | 272.15g
  • Oxford University Press
  • OxfordUnited Kingdom
  • English
  • 0199568367
  • 9780199568369
  • 345,809

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Engaging book. Christopher Hirst, The Independent An intriguing exploration of Tolkien's career...which will delight the heart of 'Lord of the Rings' fans and word lovers.

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About Peter Gilliver

Peter Gilliver is an Associate Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, having joined the project in 1987. He is also working on a history of the OED for Oxford University Press. Jeremy Marshall is an Associate Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary; he joined the department in 1988 as a science editor for the New Shorter OED. He was co-author of Questions of English. Edmund Weiner is Deputy Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary; he joined in 1977 to work on the Supplement to the OED. He has written several books on English grammar and usage, and teaches an annual course in the history of English.

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