The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary
The Meaning of Everything The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary Author:Simon Winchester From the bestselling author of — The Professor and the Madman, — The Map That Changed the World, and Krakatoa Writing with marvelous brio, Simon Winchester first serves up a lightning history of the English language and pays homage to the great dictionary makers from Samuel Johnson to Noah Webster before turning his unmatched tale... more »nt for storytelling to the making of the most venerable of dictionaries - The Oxford English Dictionary. Here the listener is presented with lively portraits of such key figures as the brilliant but sickly first editor Herbert Coleridge, the colorful, wildly eccentric Frederick Furnivall, and the incomparable James Augustus Henry Murray, who spent half a century as editor bringing the project to fruition. Winchester lovingly describes the minutiae of dictionary making, brings us to visit the unseemly corrugated iron shed that Murray grandly dubbed The Scriptorium, and introduces some of the legion of volunteers, from Fitzedward Hall, a bitter hermit obsessively devoted to the OED, to the murderous W. C. Minor, whose story is one of dangerous madness, ineluctable sadness, and ultimate redemption. The Meaning of Everything is a scintillating account of the creation of the greatest monument erected to a living language.« less
This book was every bit as much fun as I'd hoped it would be, most focused on the OED from its inception in 1857 through first complete publication in 1928. Purposes and goals, compilation of information, obstacles, personalities... all woven in a well-told easy read. Winchester also gives some background on dictionary development, more interesting than you might think; OED's supplements, 1989 second edition, and ongoing updates even now; plus bibliography and good index. Reads like a novel, but I'll keep it on my reference shelf.
A surprisingly engaging look at the men who labored for over 70-years without the aid of computers to produce the Oxford English Dictionary, a 12-volume beast originally published in 1928. A "Revised Edition" yet to be published may be as large as 40-volumes and weigh as much as a sixth of a ton. "Each printing would consume a sizeable acreage of woodland. The environment would be affected, significantly." Perhaps then, it will only see life on the Net. A great read for those who love the English language.
Jody T. (jody102) - reviewed The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary on
Helpful Score: 1
A fascinating "listen" for any student of English who is interested in etymology and the history of the OED. Includes numerous details and anecdotes on the dictionary making process, various eccentric editors of the dictionary, and their efforts to cultivate public participation in the project which spanned over a half century.