Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Meaning of Everything

An enjoyable book: The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary, by Simon Winchester. It's an easy, quick, entertaining and informative read. I recommend it.

The amazing thing about the OED is the gargatuan size of the undertaking: to define and research the history of every word in the English language, past and present. It is one of the greatest scholarly endeavors ever attempted (let alone substantially finished).

Sir James Murray (pictured here thrice in his Scriptorium, as he dubbed it) was the most significant editor and contributor to the OED in its early days. He even looks like an eccentric scholar!

J.R.R. Tolkien contributed also to the work (amongst many other fine scholars, at least some of whom were rather quirky - another reason The Meaning of Everything is an enjoyable book). Tolkien worked on some words beginning with W, and he was most challenged by the word, Walrus, which turned out to be much older than he had expected.

1 comment:

  1. "...AMONGST many other fine scholars..." While this is correct usage, the word seems like an unnecessary British usage; "among" would suffice.