Adding Words To The Dictionary Has Always Been A Slow Process. Then COVID-19 Hit

There’s been no shortage of criticism in recent week of everyone from business leaders to public officials to individual citizens, for not moving fast enough to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. But one industry whose stock-in-trade is to work slowly is moving with unprecedented speed: The dictionary. Not every new word that makes [...]

How COVID-19 is changing the English language

In April, the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary did something unusual. For the previous 20 years, they had issued quarterly updates to announce new words and meanings selected for inclusion. These updates have typically been made available in March, June, September and December. In the late spring, however, and again in July, the dictionary’s [...]

By |2020-09-26T12:29:05+00:00September 26th, 2020|Dictionary, English language|0 Comments

Do words get removed from a dictionary when people stop using them?

The Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary is generally regarded as the single most comprehensive record of the English language to exist. Included in this work are many thousands of words considered completely “obsolete” by lexicographers. You see, in something of a Hotel California of linguistics, once a word has made it into the [...]

By |2018-04-23T11:41:07+00:00April 23rd, 2018|Dictionary, Lexicography, Words|0 Comments

The Time the Oxford English Dictionary Forgot a Word

When the complete edition of what would become the Oxford English Dictionary debuted in 1928, it was lauded as a comprehensive collection of the English language, a glossary so vast—and so thorough—that no other reference book could ever exceed its detail or depth. In total, the project took seven decades to catalogue everything from A [...]

By |2018-02-22T00:27:05+00:00February 14th, 2018|Dictionary, Language, OED, Words|0 Comments

The Grimm Brothers’ Other Great Project Was Writing a Giant German Dictionary

In 1837, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, the brothers most well known for their eponymous collection of fairy tales, were kicked out of their home. They had been working as professors at the famous University of Göttingen, Germany, when the King of Hanover, who ruled the area, demanded they and other academics swear an oath of [...]

The people behind India’s first sign language dictionary

Apart from a few clicks on computer keyboards and the routine shuffling of paper, it is very quiet at this office in the capital, Delhi. A group of 15 people here are working on the massive task of compiling more than 7,000 signs that deal with words used in academic, medical, legal, technical and routine [...]

By |2017-03-03T15:07:25+00:00March 3rd, 2017|Dictionary, India, Sign language|0 Comments

Indigenous dictionary project aims to keep endangered languages alive

A project in development by the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation aims to revolutionise the teaching and learning of literacy in indigenous communities across Australia. The ALNF’s Living First Language Project aims to revitalise and preserve endangered indigenous languages, while simultaneously teaching literacy in English and first languages. Over three years, the platform will be [...]

This man has spent 35 years compiling entries for a 132,000-word online slang dictionary that you can search for free

“Slang dictionaries have always been done by mad people who sit in rooms and make books out of them,” explains Jonathon Green. For 35 years he’s been doing just that: collecting slang words and compiling them into dictionaries. The biggest of these—Green’s Dictionary of Slang, published in 2010—launches online today (Oct. 12). The online version [...]

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 [...]

Online Dictionary Helps Nigerians Decode Their Names

The names given to a child by southwest Nigeria’s Yoruba people come with a certain meaning, which may be related to something like the time of year or to the circumstances of the child’s birth. While linguist Kola Tubosun knows the meaning of his name, many of the other Yorubas he has met do not. [...]