Mary Cunnane
Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Mary Cunnane, who has worked in the publishing industry since 1976, laments the laziness and irritation of those publishers who resent and underestimate unsolicited submissions from authors

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Bernadette Hince reviews 'Words of the World'

Bernadette Hince
Thursday, 31 October 2013

Nothing ever gets taken out of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) – at least, that’s what I believed until I read this book. Words which are no longer used simply stay where they are, complete with their quotations, and the addition of a small dagger symbol (†) to signify their obsolescence: for example,

Colin Steele

Colin Steele
Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Dr Johnson wrote in his review of Soame Jenyns’s A Free Enquiry into the Nature of the Origin of Good and Evil: ‘The only end of writing is to enable the readers better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.’ One could argue, in the context of contemporary scholarly writing, that increasingly the only end is to satisfy the evaluative demands of research ...

'Unsung hero of Australian lexicography' by Sarah Ogilvie

Sarah Ogilvie
Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Historical dictionaries depend on quotations to exemplify how a word is used over time. An unsung hero of Australian lexicography, who contributed more than 100,000 quotations to the Australian National Dictionary (AND) and Oxford English Dictionary (OED) over a period of thirty years, died two years ago this month. Mr Chris ...

'Landmines in lexicography' by Sarah Ogilvie

Sarah Ogilvie
Monday, 23 April 2012

When the ALP conference voted to amend the party platform on same-sex marriage at the end of last year, there was a flurry of debate in magazines, newspapers, and online. The platform now states: ‘Labor will amend the Marriage Act to ensure equal access to marriage under statute for all adult couples irrespective of sex who have a mutual commitment to a shared life.’ For lexicographers, thi ...

'Parasitic dictionaries and spam books' by Sarah Ogilvie

Sarah Ogilvie
Wednesday, 21 March 2012

A few years ago, Peter Austin and David Nathan, two Australian linguists working at the School of African and Oriental Studies in London, discovered that their dictionary of Kamilaroi, an Aboriginal language of New South Wales, was for sale on Amazon. The only problem was that they had not put it there and it had someone else’s name on it. Philip M. Parker, having found their Kamilaroi/Ga ...

Every day for the past few months, the Sydney linguist Michael Walsh has been sitting in the Mitchell Library poring over old manuscripts. He is extracting old wordlists of Aboriginal languages from the library’s rich collection of early British settler diaries, missionary field notes, and unpublished historical documents for a project funded by the State Library of New South Wales and Rio Ti ...

We are on the verge of another revolution in dictionary-making. Since the seventeenth century there have been three major revolutions in lexicographic practice. In 1604 Robert Cawdrey produced the first monolingual English dictionary, which was – radically – arranged alphabetically. In the middle of the eighteenth century, Samuel Johnson employed literary citations to illus ...

Henry Hitchings: The Language Wars

Bruce Moore
Friday, 21 October 2011

Becoffined words

Bruce Moore


The Language Wars: A History of Proper English
by Henry Hitchings
Hodder & Stoughton, $39.99 hb, 408 pp, 9781848542082


Henry Hitchings has written a number of well-received books on aspects of the English language, ...

Jonathon Green: Green's Dictionary of Slang

Bruce Moore
Wednesday, 29 June 2011

No boondoggle

Bruce Moore


Green’s Dictionary of Slang
by Jonathon Green
Chambers, $580 hb, 3 volumes, 6085 pp, 9780550104403


Dictionaries of slang have a history as long as that of dictionaries of Standard English, and both kinds of dictionary ar ...

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