RIP for OED as world's finest dictionary goes out of print

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 05:14
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I grew up with the 1928 version on the bookshelf Apr 21, 2014

My mother was very proud of it - and I don't know how her family afforded it when she won a scholarship to Oxford during the war. But they did, and the fifteen volumes, as I remember them, followed us through numerous moves. They were always reverently arranged on the bottom shelf of the bookcase, which rested on the floor, so there was no risk of it collapsing under the weight!

We did occasionally consult the OED, fascinated by the detail and quotations, and my parents used it now and then. For most of my education, however, I was at boarding school, and had to 'make do' with the fourth and fifth editions of the Concise Oxford Dictionary. I still have my very own copy of the 1964 edition, a Christmas present in 1966, with my mother's inscription:

Words are the wise man's counters, and the fool's money.
Christine
For pleasure and profit, with love, KMS

And quite honestly, it served me well and was far more practical than the OED. Some of the etymologies are better than the later versions!

Since then I have possessed several versions on CD, alternating between the Concise and the Shorter Oxford Dictionaries - I use them almost daily.
I am fond of the Advanced Learner's Dictionary too - in print and online.
Currently I like the quotations and detail of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary, which is installed on my latest computer.

Sometime I must take out a subscription to the online version of the big brother of them all... But I am afraid I would spend too much time reading it! So it will be a retiring present when I stop translating full time. icon_biggrin.gif

It is a little sad to see it go, but really, in the 21st century, we are far too used to online searches, and barely anyone would have the patience to thumb through the mighty tomes of the printed version.

Happy memories, but let's be grateful for progress!

[Edited at 2014-04-22 09:24 GMT]


 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:14
French to English
+ ...
Sentimentality vs practicality Apr 22, 2014

Whilst I remember sentimentally thumbing through a copy-- complete with the plastic magnifying glass handily supplied for those bereft of supersonic vision-- in my college library, I was damned glad when sitting up at 3am completing an assignment that a CD-ROM version was also available.

And I think that's the rub: the gold-leaf version that you stick in a glass case in the Bodleian or bequeath to your grandchild as a souvenir of your appearance on Countdown isn't the same version that you actually want to use for practical purposes most of the time.


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 11:14
Chinese to English
"at least 20 years behind schedule" Apr 22, 2014

Just those few words make me feel so much better about my own scheduling abilities.

RIP indeed. I have sometimes fallen into the error of being snooty about big reference volumes like the OED that were displayed more than used. That's changed since I got married: my wife's parents are semi-literate, and she grew up in a home with literally not a single book in it. The differences in attitude run deep and subtle.


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 11:14
Chinese to English
Getting better Apr 22, 2014

The article is interesting beyond the part quoted - everyone should click on the link:

He said his team working on the definition of new entries has a target of 50 to 60 words a month, slower than in the past because the world wide web has created so much more source material...“I averaged about 80 when I started because, in 1989, we didn’t have computers on our desks, so there was a limit to how much you could research. The library was our primary resource.”

That's fascinating. Think how much was missed in the past! All the subtlety and ephemera that can now be captured.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:14
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I can't make sense of this Apr 22, 2014

Quote:

"Compilers of the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary fear the mammoth masterpiece can only appear online as printed volumes will not be commerically viable"


It isn't the misspelling of "commercially"; it's the absence of any verb.


 

Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:14
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Fear Apr 22, 2014

Tom in London wrote:

Quote:

"Compilers of the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary fear the mammoth masterpiece can only appear online as printed volumes will not be commerically viable"


It isn't the misspelling of "commercially"; it's the absence of any verb.


(My emphasis.)

[Bearbeitet am 2014-04-22 09:09 GMT]


 

urbom
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:14
German to English
+ ...
from the OED Apr 22, 2014

Tom in London wrote:

Quote:

"Compilers of the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary fear the mammoth masterpiece can only appear online as printed volumes will not be commerically viable"


It isn't the misspelling of "commercially"; it's the absence of any verb.


fear, v.
7 b. with subord. clause. To be afraid that (something will be or is the case). In negative sentences the clause may be introduced by but or but that = that..not. Also with direct obj. and to be or simple complement; rarely, with inf. as obj. Also parenthetically.
1526 W. Bonde Pylgrimage of Perfection i. sig. Eiiiv, I feare sore, that many christen people..do as the chyldren of Israel dyd.
a1533 Ld. Berners tr. Bk. Duke Huon of Burdeux (1882–7) lxi. 212 Fere not but ye shalbe well payed.
a1616 Shakespeare Henry VI, Pt. 3 (1623) v. vi. 12 The Theefe doth feare each bush an Officer.
1638 R. Baker tr. J. L. G. de Balzac New Epist. II. 25 Never feare that I will impaire his ill nights.
1659 T. Burton Diary (1828) IV. 47, I fear they are troubled with King's evil.
1667 Milton Paradise Lost i. 628 What power of mind..could have fear'd, How such united force of Gods..could ever know repulse.
1692 J. M. tr. A. de La Roche-Guilhen Zingis 11 He feared with reason to be unable to do any thing for Zingis.
1726 W. R. Chetwood Voy. Capt. Boyle 47, I fear'd it would be..two hundred Pounds.
1771 E. Griffith tr. ‘P. Viaud’ Shipwreck 255, I fear much that of the sixteen persons..three only of us have survived.
1849 T. B. Macaulay Hist. Eng. II. 225 He might do so without fearing that the Five Mile Act would be enforced.
1857 Trollope Three Clerks v, I fear we are all in your black books.
1863 F. A. Kemble Jrnl. Resid. Georgian Plantation 16 The account..will hardly, I fear, render my letters very interesting.


 

urbom
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:14
German to English
+ ...
absolutely Apr 22, 2014

Neil Coffey wrote:

the gold-leaf version that you stick in a glass case in the Bodleian or bequeath to your grandchild as a souvenir of your appearance on Countdown isn't the same version that you actually want to use for practical purposes most of the time.


Not to mention the advanced search capabilities: the online OED (available free of charge if you have a UK public library card) offers the ability to search within definitions and etymologies, by date of entry, register, part of speech, or using wildcards (e.g. all the words ending in -atical)... none of those are possible with the hard-copy version.


 

Sian Cooper  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:14
French to English
+ ...
Getting better Apr 22, 2014

Phil Hand wrote:

That's fascinating. Think how much was missed in the past! All the subtlety and ephemera that can now be captured.


Of course, there has always been a mass of spoken language that has failed to make it into dictionaries, or not until it has been very slowly assimilated into the written language.

Then again, Phil, since the publication is 20 years' behind schedule, we are actually missing everything now! After all, unless published, that additional richness serves no purpose...

I for one deeply regret the paper concept. There is nothing like flicking through a big Oxford and discovering all those words that will never be in any other dictionary, ever. I know we can flick more and more easily online, but it loses something.

Can we send flowers?


 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
Behind Schedule? Apr 22, 2014

Who cares if it's behind schedule? It can be put on line as it is, and then updated on a regular basis as progress continues. That's the beauty of electronic text, it's not written on stone and can be updated any time.

 

cclover  Identity Verified
United States
German to English
+ ...
Grateful for your notice May 5, 2014

Thanks for putting this where we can all see it - I hadn't realized that the print version was, in fact, being discontinued. (I was able to find the verbs, by the way!) The OED has had such a colorful "life story", not only due to its intellectual content...but who decided what to put in, or leave out, who could work on it, and who couldn't, and the toll it took on the compilers' lives...This is just another variation in its course of development.

 

George Hopkins
Local time: 05:14
Swedish to English
Not so many... May 6, 2014

...people use dictionaries nowadays. Usage rules the world.

You know, absolutely you know that things can have several alternatives and some things are nearly, very or a little unique. My old favorite, the bilge pump, can be used anywhere -- even in the bilge.

I vote for WordFinder.


 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:14
French to English
+ ...
Usage of dictionaries May 6, 2014

George Hopkins wrote:
Not so many people use dictionaries nowadays. Usage rules the world.


I wonder what the basis of this statement is?

Of course, the veracity of the statement depends hugely on what you mean by "people", "use", "dictionaries" and "nowadays". But as a reference, a study by Exeter University in 1999 showed that students on average owned 5 or more dictionaries and that when they encountered an unknown word, looking it up in the dictionary ranked higher than other methods (such as guessing or asking somebody) as their preferred means of resolving their doubt.

That was before electronic dictionaries really took off. "Nowadays", pretty much every phone can be equipped with a dictionary of some sorts for a couple of quid, every iPad has one built in, a Google search of a rare word generally brings up a dictionary entry as the top result, etc. So I wonder if statistics, if available, would bear out your claim in any meaningful way.

You also make it sound like dictionaries are in some way competing with "usage", whereas in principle, "usage" is precisely what dictionaries are attempting to document! (That said, it is true that it is nowadays much easier to go directly to a the database of "raw material" on which a dictionary might be compiled-- or what we might call "doing a Google search"-- than it was 20 years ago.)


 

Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:14
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
RIP May 6, 2014

I thought RIP meant "Remain In Print".
(No, I didn't!)


 


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RIP for OED as world's finest dictionary goes out of print

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