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'Oxford English Dictionary' may not be printed again

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message 1: by Matt, e-monk (new)

Matt Comito | 386 comments Mod
By Nicky Trup


Monday, 30 August 2010


After more than two decades in production, the latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary may never make it to print, its publisher has said. Oxford University Press has blamed the rise in popularity of electronic publications and reference websites for a decline in demand for printed dictionaries.


Nigel Portwood, OUP's chief executive, suggested that the next edition of the OED would probably be available online only. "The print dictionary market is just disappearing; it is falling away by tens of per cent a year," he said. "Print is still important round here but, wherever possible, if there is an opportunity, we are moving out of it."

Currently, 15 per cent of the publishing house's business comes from digital revenues, with sales of e-books up 40 per cent compared to last year. Mr Portwood said the OED was one of the "long-term research projects we fund, which will never cover their costs but are something that we choose to do."

A team of 80 lexicographers has been working on the third edition since 1989, with no confirmed completion date in sight. The book is only 28 per cent finished, and publication could be as far away as 10 years from now. New or revised entries, however, are published every three months on the official OED website, with the next set of updates due in September.

The first edition of the multi-volume Oxford English Dictionary was published in 1928, and the second edition in 1989. OUP publishes 500 dictionaries, thesauruses, and language reference titles in over 40 languages.

Despite its chief executive's scepticism, the publisher has not entirely ruled out the possibility of a third print edition of the OED. A final decision on the format will be taken when it is ready for publication, likely more than a decade from now.


(another victim of technology, add to maps, newspapers, magazines, travel guides, the category of reference books, that's what the interwebs are for

ah but do we lose the pleasures of randomly leafing through the dictionary and chancing upon a new word?)


message 2: by Kerry, flame-haired janeite (new)

Kerry Dunn (kerryanndunn) | 886 comments Mod
I used to keep a paperback dictionary next to my bed for looking up words I didn't know while reading.

Now I just look them up in my Dictionary App on my iPhone.

So I apologize for my contribution to the end of the printed dictionary.

;)

*Although I must also say, I never randomly leafed through my dictionary. . .


message 3: by Adrian (new)

Adrian | 253 comments Matt wrote: "Despite its chief executive's scepticism, the publisher has not entirely ruled out the possibility of a third print edition of the OED. A final decision on the format will be taken when it is ready for publication, likely more than a decade from now..."

So it may still appear.

I think Dan has a complete multi-volume set of the current edition. And he didn't earn it the hard way -- by becoming an old fossil of a professor who receives it as a gift from the faculty because they want him to retire.

In his letters, Delmore Schwartz suggested that a writer should read a page of the dictionary every day. Schwartz died a paranoid loon, but it might not be related to his dictionary-reading.


message 4: by Ry (new)

Ry (downeyr) | 173 comments I remember taking a Linguistics class and watching a film about the place of slang in the English language. One of the people who was all for slang and modernization of language (see: "Google" as verb) worked on the Oxford English Dictionary. Is it wrong that I find it interesting and slightly funny that he may now be out of a job?


message 5: by Kerry, flame-haired janeite (new)

Kerry Dunn (kerryanndunn) | 886 comments Mod
Ry, he wouldn't necessarily be out of a job. They will still compile words for new editions of the OED, they just won't print it in physical book form.


message 6: by R.a. (new)

R.a. (brasidas1) | 79 comments I'm so glad I joined that 'whatever' book club all those years ago where I received my own copy of the Compact Edition of the OED.

Despite having to use the magnifying glass, I still refer to it now and again.

And, when I'm writing, it has become invaluable for inciting ideas to play around with while I putter.


Phew!


message 7: by Patty, free birdeaucrat (new)

Patty | 896 comments Mod
It's nice to have a digital version, in case you really do just want info about a single word. But the real fun of the OED is finding neighboring words that are similar but have different histories, and trying to imagine additional connections that the OED editors didn't come up with. Or just getting distracted by the other words altogether. So if the paper copies start to disappear, I think it would be a real loss. But then, I'm not really sure we need a new edition at the moment.


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