Anthony Burgess’ Legendary Dictionary of Slang Lives

The reaction most readers have to beginning Anthony Burgess’ 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange is: What are half these words? That’s because much of the novel is written using Nadsat, a dystopian teenage subculture language fusing British rhyming slang and Russian that Burgess created for the book. But that wasn’t Burgess’ only foray into the [...]

By |2017-06-08T13:28:26+00:00June 8th, 2017|Dictionaries, Language, Lexicography, Slang|0 Comments

Democratizing the Oxford English Dictionary

The original Oxford English Dictionary, edited by the great lexicographer James Murray, was never meant to be a mere dictionary. Murray wanted to account for every sense of every word in standard English—an astonishingly ambitious aim, given the size and fluidity of the language. The OED’s originators, Murray observed in 1900, were seeking “not merely [...]

Documents that Changed the World: Noah Webster’s dictionary, 1828

It’s twilight time for printed dictionaries, whose word-filled bulk weighed down desks, held open doors and by turns inspired and intimidated writers searching for the perfect word. Lexicography — the making of dictionaries — has gone digital. Though a few are still published, the dictionary’s time as printed, bound documents is almost up. In this [...]

Reviving Indigenous languages through old novels, dictionaries and documents

Professor Jane Simpson loves dictionaries and the gateway to the past that they can unlock. She is part of the Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language at Australian National University (ANU), which is currently documenting Indigenous languages in the Pacific region. Indigenous languages in Australia could number between 300 and 700, depending on [...]