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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. But 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.Read more
- Controversial, as it is the first book to challenge the received view on how editors of the past treated foreign words and World Englishes in the OED
- Written by an OED editor, so gives readers a firsthand view of life inside the OED and an insight into how a lexicographer approaches the topic
- Provides new insights into the compilation of the OED, the contexts in which it developed, and the personalities involved in its construction
Reviews & endorsements
"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 LexicographySee more reviews
"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, Birmingham City University
"Sarah Ogilvie brings a unique conjunction of abilities to this book: deep practical knowledge of OED and its archives, powerful analytical skills, and personal warmth and flair as a storyteller."
John Considine, University of Alberta
"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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- Date Published: December 2012
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781107605695
- length: 256 pages
- dimensions: 227 x 152 x 12 mm
- weight: 0.43kg
- contains: 56 b/w illus.
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
1. Entering the OED
2. A global dictionary from the beginning
3. James Murray and words of the world
4. James Murray and the Stanford Dictionary controversy
5. William Craigie, Charles Onions, and the mysterious case of the vanishing tramlines
6. Robert Burchfield and words of the world in the OED Supplements
Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses
- Lexicon & Culture: English and its World Heritage
- Writing in the Disciplines
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