Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Oxford English Dictionary

As is my wont, when there are not pressing matters that must be attended outside my home at an early hour, I start each day playing games on the computer.  Free Cell and Bookworm are my go-tos, both of which are my homemade tests for judging my present mental acuity.  I am convinced that if I can make it through Freecell and make a decent score on Bookworm, my mind is working reasonably well and I can proceed with the day.  If I have difficulties, I convince myself that another cup of coffee will sharpen my mind to the point that I can make it through the day without doing myself any major damage.

This morning, as I was playing Bookworm, I marveled again, as I have literally hundreds of time in the past, at the richness of the English language.  So many words; simple, complex, beautiful words! As I posted early in my blog, I have been in love with words since I was a teenager, inoculated with the love of words virus by my high school English teacher.

I discovered the Oxford English Dictionary when I was a freshman in college. Having been exposed to dictionaries only the the form of the latest Webster's,  I was amazed at the wealth of information on word roots and origins and the first use of words in the English language contained in the OED.  As I was not very socially inclined at that time in my life, I spent many, many hours in the college library, where the 20 volumes of the OED sat on top of one of the long tables. I spent hours perusing those books.  I'd like to be able to say that I had read the entire OED, but I fear that, even at my advanced age, I might have made it through, perhaps, a dozen volumes by now.

[Wikipedia information on the OED, may be found here:]

A book that has managed to stay for over 30 years in my sadly diminishing personal library is the story of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. It is a biography of James Murray, editor of the original OED, written by his granddaughter, K. M. Elizabeth Murray, and first published by Yale University Press (1977). My well-worn paperback copy was published by Oxford University Press in 1979.  Oh... it's title?  CAUGHT IN THE WEB OF WORDS. If you love words, or simply have a curiosity about the OED, I highly recommend it to you.

It's bitterly cold here today.I left my taps dripping last night, and was pleased to have both cold and hot water this morning. Although the weather is not as brutal as it is in some parts of the U.S., it's more than cold enough for us southerners. If there is a good side to it, it's cold enough to kill the remaining mosquitoes and, hopefully, most of the ticks and chiggers. Fortunately, it is just cold; no precipitation.  That's due to move into our area on Saturday evening.  I expect icy roads  at church time on Sunday.  We shall see what we shall see.

Tomorrow is also a day.


Snap said...

Stay warm!

Peter said...

It is wonderful to be able to spend time immersed in a dictionary. I often take one or two dictionaries to bed with me for bed time reading! My ones are usually Potter's Dictionaries, but the Pocket Oxford Dictionary is a friend also! Winter and cold for you.. we are summer here, and in the late evening I was out in the garden with my camera taking some photos of a beautiful blue hydrangea. We are needing some rain at the moment and the ground is as hard as a brick, and the grass mostly yellow and dry. We have raspberries and black currents to pick, and the plums are not far from ripe now. Anyway, I must go to bed, I have had a busy week in the studio.
Happy New Year to you. Peter, Laura, and Nigella Stopit x

Arkansas Patti said...

It has been a bit nippy hasn't it. I will have to check out Bookworm.
Thanks for telling me about "The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden." I wasn't aware he had written another and I loved the 100 year old man.
Hope your resolution is to post more often. You have been missed.

Suldog said...

I love dictionaries. I've spent more than a few days in my life whiling away the hours reading the definitions of words new to me.

By the way, anyone who uses "wont" in their opening sentence is OK by me! It's one of my favorite words (unfortunately, often better used in print than in conversation, since the pronunciation tends to lead those who don't know the word to believe you just don't speak the language very well.)

Terri B said...

That's one of the benefits I am hoping for with all this super cold weather is that the fire ants have to dig so deep they end up in another country on the other side of the world..not that I would wish that dreadful creature on anyone, but surely Arkansas has had enough of them! Have a great week!

Jinksy said...

After months of hiding behind a stack of knitting wool, needles and crochet hooks, I popped my head up today and was delighted with your flag waving for the OED! I used to read dictionaries for fun, too, but it never made me a good at spelling. LOL
So nice to see you again, though. ♥