Thursday, March 12, 2009

Oxford English Dictionary

March 2009 revisions - Quarterly updates - Oxford English Dictionary: "Recent updates to the OED have focused alternately on alphabetical revision in the letter R and high-profile words elsewhere in the alphabet. This release concentrates on more high-profile terms, with an emphasis on words relating to humanity and life in society. In addition, several key scientific sections are revised, as are two of English’s most common prepositions and adverbs. The key words in this release include community, human, life, live, social, walk; the aceto- compounds, acid, alkali; about and above. Needless to say, long sets of adjacent, related words are revised and updated alongside these key terms.

These notes cover a range of aspects of the OED’s revision programme. Firstly, one of the revised and updated entries, absentee, is considered in some details, to see how revision has changed our view of the word. Secondly, there is a brief glimpse at the profile or ‘shape’ of several of the ‘big’ entries in the range. This looks at how old they are in the language, and how this tends to inform the way in which they have developed over the centuries. Thirdly, we investigate a rogue quotation. This is one which, for over one hundred years, the OED has offered as the earliest example in English of the word pal (= friend, mate). New research in the relevant archive shows that it was wrongly assessed back in 1904. And finally, evidence for the word playwright, which confirms our suspicions that it does date from the time of Shakespeare."


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