by Simon Winchester
The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary, the title pretty much says it all. And who would have thought there would be so much drama in the creation of a dictionary! Come to think of it, who thinks about the creation of a dictionary in general? :-) Apparently Simon Winchester spends a lot of time thinking about it, because he's written two books on the subject. The other is The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary, which has moved up a couple of notches on my TBR list now that I've heard a little bit about the man he discusses in it. He was an inmate at a sanitarium while he was working on the OED, and the editor had no idea!
Other interesting factoids:
- The Oxford English Dictionary took 71 years to produce
- Hundreds of volunteer readers scoured thousands of books to amass well over a million illustrative quotations of the words included in the dictionary
- J.R.R. Tolkien was an assistant editor for the OED
- Novelist Julian Barnes worked on the supplement for the OED after its initial publication
- Alexander Graham Bell gave one of his first versions of the telephone to one of the original OED editors, who then abandoned it as useless junk in his attic
There is more! This book was a lot of fun to listen to, especially for a trivia junky. It was fascinating to hear and think about all the living, breathing people who worked so devotedly on one of our favorite reference books long, long before there were any such things as computers. Yeah. It was all done manually. "Manual • adjective 1 made or worked with the hands. 2 using or working with the hands: a manual worker." (Compact Oxford English Dictionary)
NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)
Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!