Monday, February 26, 2018

The OED, a “moving document”

In The Guardian, Andrew Dickson reports on the Oxford English Dictionary in the Internet age, as the dictionary attempts “to be ever so slightly more complete today than it was yesterday or the day before.” Will a third edition ever appear?

The dictionary team now prefer to refer to [the OED] as a “moving document.” Words are only added; they are never deleted. When I suggested to [chief editor] Michael Proffitt that it resembled a proud but leaky Victorian warship whose crew were trying to keep out the leaks and simultaneously keep it on course, he looked phlegmatic. “I used to say it was like painting the Forth Bridge, never-ending. But then they stopped — a new kind of paint, I think.” He paused. “Now it’s just us.”
[Painting the Forth Bridge: a colloquial expression.]

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