Treasure-House of the Language: The Living Oed

Treasure-House of the Language: The Living Oed

by Charlotte Brewer


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The untold history of the celebrated Oxford English Dictionary and its makers, from the first edition’s completion in 1928 to the present day

The legendary Oxford English Dictionary today contains over 600,000 words and a staggering 2,500,000 quotations to illuminate the meaning and history of those words. A glorious, bursting treasure-house, the OED serves as a guardian of the literary jewels of the past, a testament to the richness of the English language today, and a guarantor of future understanding of the language. In this book, Charlotte Brewer begins her account of the OED at the point where others have stopped—the publication of the final installment of the first edition in 1928—and carries it through to the metamorphosis of the dictionary into a twenty-first-century electronic medium.

Brewer describes the difficulties of keeping the OED up to date over time and recounts the recurring debates over finances, treatment of contentious words, public vs. scholarly expectations, proper sources of quotations, and changing editorial practices. With humor and empathy, she portrays the predilections and personalities of the editors, publishers, and assistants who undertook the Sisyphean task of keeping apace with the modern explosion of vocabulary. Utilizing rich archives in Oxford as well as new electronic resources, the author uncovers a history no less complex and fascinating than the Oxford English Dictionary itself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300209556
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 11/09/2007
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 234.00(w) x 156.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Charlotte Brewer is a fellow of Hertford College, Oxford, and CUF lecturer in English at Oxford University. She has published extensively on topics related to the Oxford English Dictionary. She lives in Oxford, England.

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Treasure-House of the Language: The Living OED 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Schopflin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Publishing house histories are often mind-numbingly turgid, based on corporate archives and filled with sales statistics and personnel changes. Perhaps because Dr Brewer's history is of the OED - largely since its original publication in 1928 - rather than the OUP, this book is anything but. It is as much the story of the role of the institution of the OED in how we view the English language as of its production. Yet Brewer's sources were administrative records and she doesn't stint on this side of the history. It is a testament to her own ability as a writer, then, that the book is such a page-turner.