Words of the World

Words of the World : A Global History of the Oxford English Dictionary

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Most people think of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) as a distinctly British product. Begun in England 150 years ago, it took more than 60 years to complete and, when it was finally finished in 1928, the British prime minister heralded it as a 'national treasure'. It maintained this image throughout the twentieth century, and in 2006 the English public voted it an 'Icon of England', alongside Marmite, Buckingham Palace and the bowler hat. However, this book shows that the dictionary is not as 'British' as we all thought. The linguist and lexicographer, Sarah Ogilvie, combines her insider knowledge and experience with impeccable research to show that the OED is in fact an international product in both its content and its making. She examines the policies and practices of the various editors, applies qualitative and quantitative analysis, and finds new OED archival materials in the form of letters, reports and proofs. She demonstrates that the OED, in its use of readers from all over the world and its coverage of World English, is in fact a global text.

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  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 150 x 226 x 14mm | 439.98g
  • CambridgeUnited Kingdom
  • English
  • 56 b/w illus.
  • 1107605695
  • 9781107605695
  • 392,532

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'Sarah Ogilvie brings a unique conjunction of abilities to this book: deep practical knowledge of [the] OED and its archives, powerful analytical skills, and personal warmth and flair as a storyteller.' John Considine, University of Alberta 'Sarah Ogilvie, by forensically examining the OED text, demonstrates convincingly that, as envisaged by James Murray, it was a truly international enterprise, in both its contributors and the World Englishes represented.' Howard Jackson, Emeritus Professor of English Language and Linguistics, Birmingham City University 'A penetrating and brilliantly conceived work that decisively refutes the assumption that Victorian prejudice disposed the original editors of the OED to neglect foreign loanwords and non-British English. Ogilvie writes with a refreshingly brisk intelligence.' Sidney Landau, author of Dictionaries: The Art and Craft of Lexicography 'A beauty of a book ...' Financial Times '... cleverly documents the discomfort of Little England.' Peter Conrad, The Observer '[A] meticulous study ...' The Times Literary Supplement 'Ogilvie challenges the commonly held assumption that the OED originally reflected Anglocentric and Victorian views of race and empire, and only progressively recognised in its supplements loanwords and words from the world's Englishes ... Ogilvie makes her case while also giving a fascinating account of work in the OED's offices. Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.' J. K. Bracken, Choice

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About Sarah Ogilvie

Sarah Ogilvie is Director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre, Reader in Linguistics at the Australian National University and Chief Editor of Oxford Dictionaries, Australia. Prior to that she was Alice Tong Sze Research Fellow at Cambridge University. She has a doctorate in linguistics from the University of Oxford and worked for many years as an editor on the Oxford English Dictionary in England and the Macquarie and Oxford dictionaries in Australia.

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