Continuing the description of books on words and language listed in the introductory post, which you’ll find here.
Book 25: Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (2 Volumes):
Hardback, 3,743 pages, plus the preface, an eighteen age article ‘A brief history of English’, a twelve page ‘Guide to the use of the dictionary’, two pages of ‘Abbreviations’, a one page ‘Pronunciation guide’, two pages devoted to ‘Features of dictionary entries’ and a single page ‘Transliteration guide’. This is a set of two equal sized volumes presented in a stout card case, and both bearing a couple of long blue ribbons to mark pages selected by the user. First published in 1933 by Oxford University Press. Mine is the 2007 6th edition. I bought it new in 2007, and got to it only seconds before another keen wordsmith, as it was in a sale in W.H. Smiths at the bargain price of £35.00; the normal purchase price being £60.00 at the time. You can obtain a copy of the same edition (current), new, for £71.58 (list price £105.00). I would’ve loved the full Oxford English Dictionary. The latest edition of that is the 2nd edition, in 20 volumes, published in 1989, and currently available at the bargain price of £862.50; a snip!
Opened randomly at pages 810/811, we start with:
‘elegiast /(pronunciation guide; I can’t copy here as it’s in a mixture of symbols)/ noun. rare. M18 [ORIGIN from ELEGY after ecclesiast] Awriter of elegies.’
And carry on to the bottom of page 811, where we find:
‘elfish /(pronunciation)/ adjective. M16. [ORIGIN from ELF noun₁ + -ISH₁.] Elvish. Formerly also (of a thing), unmanageable. G. Greene “A little Robin Goodfellow of a man, full of elfish tricks.”’
This is a pretty comprehensive dictionary of the English Language and my ‘go-to’ source when I’m in need of a definition of a word. It’s served me well ever since I bought it.
English is a complex language, made up of words from many countries, and borrows rules of grammar, punctuation and even style from the originating lands, which can make it interestingly familiar to learners but also frequently frustratingly baffling to the same students.
And, for those with an interest in English and considering their future, here’s a link that suggests the many possible career opportunities open to those with a degree in English. It’s also a link to an online university, and therefore an advert for their services. I know nothing of the institution, but the list of possible career choices might be useful.
Earlier posts in the series can be found by clicking on the titles below.
2. A Dictionary of Misunderstood Misused Mispronounced Words.
3. A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English.
4. A Miscellany for Word Lovers.
5. AMERICAN ENGLISH ENGLISH AMERICAN.
6. A Dictionary of Rhyming Slang.
7. Brit-think, American-think.
8. Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors.
9. Collins English Dictionary.
10. Current English Usage.
11. Descriptionary; a Thematic Dictionary.
12. Divided by a Common Language.
13. Eats Shoots & Leaves.
14. English Prepositional Idioms.
15. Fowler’s Modern English Usage.
16. Hart’s Rules for Compositors and Readers.
17. Hartrampf’s Vocabulary Builder.
18. i before e (except after c).
19. Longman Companion to English Literature.
20. New Hart’s Rules.
21. New Nuttall Dictionary of English Synonyms and Antonyms.
22. Oxford Compact Thesaurus.
23. Oxford Dictionary of Current Idiomatic English.
24. Roget’s Thesaurus.