Even if you’re a not a writer or lover of words, it is still important to note that today is the 80th birthday of the First Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary or OED as it more commonly known. The OED bills itself as the “definitive record of the English language” and is one of the most famous dictionaries in history.
The OED was a major collaborative efforts and a precursor of today’s Wikipedia. During the 70 years from it’s approval date to it publish date on June 6, 1928, the OED went through many editors. Sir James Murray shepherded it from 1879 to 1915, and probably had the biggest influence on the work.
The official policy of the OED was to:
- “present in alphabetical series the words that have formed the English vocabulary from the time of the earliest records [ca. AD740] down to the present day, with all the relevant facts concerning their form, sense-history, pronunciation, and etymology. It embraces not only the standard language of literature and conversation, whether current at the moment, or obsolete, or archaic, but also the main technical vocabulary, and a large measure of dialectal usage and slang”
Here are some quick facts about the First Edition of the OED:
- Actual size – 10 volumes, 15,490 pages
- Time to complete – 70 years
- Number of entries – 252,200
- Number of contributors – 2,000
- Number of quotations submitted – 5 million
And here are some quick links to check out when you have more time:
- OED website
- OED Facts
- OED Word of the Day
- The Meaning of Everything by Simon Winchester – “this is a scintillating account of the greatest monumnet ever erected to a living language” and well worth the read if you want to become an expert on the OED
While iRise is trying to do away with textual word-based requirements documents, we still love words and the English language! Take a moment today and reflect on the efforts of so many to bring sense and order to our English language.