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Lost for Words: The Hidden History of the Oxford English Dictionary
 
 
Author
Lynda Mugglestone.
Publisher Yale  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.5 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
ISBN 9780300106992
Pages/Publication Date 273/2005
Daedalus Item Code 31848
This item is not available.
Description
The story behind the creation of the greatest dictionary in the English language has become a popular fascination, with several treatises on the subject. A scholar of 19th-century English at Oxford, Lynda Mugglestone looks at the history of the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary in 1928—following an incredible 49-year gestation—to explore the hidden history by which the OED came into being, tracing the often unforeseen battles involved in charting a constantly evolving tongue.

"Central to the narrative are the numerous conflicts between the dictionary's editors and the delegates of the 19th-century Oxford University Press. The subjects of these clashes ranged from finance to time (in the first seven years, the editors didn't get past the letter 'b') to concerns about space. The editors and delegates also struggled with issues of omission and correctness. For example, whereas the delegates protested the inclusion of 'bad English' (i.e., slang, popular phrases and scientific jargon), editor-in-chief James Murray held fast to his vision of an 'ideal dictionary' that would serve as an impartial, comprehensive inventory of the English language. This aspiration would prove elusive. Prudish Victorian norms prevailed over 'vulgar' terminology, and words like 'condom' were excised from the first edition, which was appropriately titled A New English Dictionary on Historical Principals. These battles are what make this book such a fascinating history, not only of how the OED came to be but of the cultural, racial and gender biases of the period.... Bibliophiles who loved The Professor and the Madman will relish this account."—Publishers Weekly

 
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