Saturday, October 18, 2008

The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary

Author: Lesley Brown (editor in chief)

Publication Date: 1993

Category: Non-fiction

Who'll want to read it? People who need to know the meaning and spelling of various words. Anyone reading a book by Tibor Fischer.

Point of no return: "Entries are listed in strict alphabetical order." pg xi

Classic line: "insidious... a M16.... Full of wiles or plots; proceeding or progressing secretly or subtly; treacherous; crafty." pg 1379 Vol 1.
Another favourite of mine:
"ideology n. L18. 3 A system of ideas or way of thinking pertaining to a class or individual, esp. as a basis of some economic or political theory or system, regarded as justifying actions and esp. to be maintained irrespective of events." pg 1305 Vol 1.

What's it all about? It's a great big list of words, their meanings, origins and pronunciation. It provides a connection with the past, being always slightly out of date. It's not the sort of book to be read from cover to cover, just dive in anywhere at random. Be careful, you may want to look at one word, yet find yourself spending hours being led from one word to another that you've never heard of. Your serendipitous journey may start with you wanting to clarify the meaning of "sycophant", but landing on the wrong page, you are led up a sylvan path, eventually finding that sylvanite is a "monoclinic telluride of gold and silver that occcurs as silver or yellow crystals or masses with metallic lustre". This knowledge is further enriched by the discovery that the word comes from [f. Tran) sylvan (ia a region of Romania ... ]. It's insidious, but in a nice way.

Publisher: Oxford

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that, Kieran. I've never really thought about dictionaries, I just expect them to be there.