Continuing the description of books on words and language listed in the introductory post, which you’ll find here.
Book 34: The Oxford Spelling Dictionary
Hardback, 299 pages. Published in 1986 by Oxford University Press, I own a BCA edition published in 1987, which I bought as part of a bundle offered by a book club, so don’t know what it cost. It appears this is no longer available. However, the publishers have released a new edition, published in 2014, with 596 pages, to reflect the ever-growing quantity of words used in English, and priced at £11.53. I’m considering getting a copy.
My edition, compiled by R.E. Allen, has a three-page guide to its use, two pages of abbreviations and symbols used in the dictionary, and a short note on proprietary word use. The dictionary then starts with Aachen and continues alphabetically through to zy|murgy.
Opened randomly, at pages 148/149, we find ourselves in the L section. Page 148 starts with leg|ally, the | symbol indicating where the word may be split for those concerned with such technical issues for printing. And page 149 ends with lim|inal. Along the way, we come across some noun/verb variations: leg|ate n. and le|gate v.; plurals: leg|ato (pl. leg|atos); adjective/noun variations: le|gend|ary a. le|gendry n.; comparatives: leg|gy (leg|gier, leg|gi|est); gerunds: le|gis|late (le|gis|lat|ing); assimilated foreign words: lei (garland); Proper nouns: Leib|niz; comparisons: les|bian (homosexual woman) and Les|bian (of Lesbos), Anglicized words: lèse-majesté (treason; Angl. as lese-majesty); feminine/masculine forms: Les|ley fem. Les|lie masc. The listings also show the locations of towns and cities; whether a word is proprietary; gives a meaning where words of similar spelling may be confused; and provides specific definitions where similar words have different spelling (or may be capitalised) according to meaning.
In short, this is a dictionary for those users who care about getting it right (I hope that applies to all writers!) and who need to know certain technical details for occupations such as printing and editing.
I’ve used it quite frequently as, in common with most people, I have a short list of words I invariably spell incorrectly, but always think I’ve finally got it right; the book lets me know whether that’s the case, or not!
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 a real 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 the subject. 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.
25. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.
26. The Dictionary of Diseased English.
27. The Elements of Style.
28. The Emotion Thesaurus.
29. The Grouchy Grammarian.
30. The Last Word.
31. The Little Red Writing Book
32. The Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors.
33. The Oxford Manual of Style
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