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Comment: Re:No help for the OED until they change pricing (Score 1) 91

by carndearg (#43673073) Attached to: Help the OED Find a Lost Book
Given the office I'm sitting in and the job I do this is a question I encounter from time to time. I can't comment on pricing for obvious reasons, but I can offer an alternative that may help some of you.
Many public libraries purchase OED Online subscriptions which they make available to their users for free. All you need is your library card number to log in and use it as much as you like. In addition most educational institutions have site licences for use by their people in the same way. It may not help you if your library or institution doesn't have a subscription, but it's worth a look. http://public.oed.com/how-to-subscribe/does-my-library-subscribe/

Comment: If you have mod points, give them to the parent. (Score 1) 146

by carndearg (#37139488) Attached to: "Woot" Becomes an Official Word

The OED is a descriptivist dictionary, as opposed to a prescriptivist dictionary. That means that the OED includes words that are actually being used, rather than prescribing which words should and should not be used. This means including words that many people object to, but too bad, there are a large number of people who use the word regardless of any official position about the word.

If you want to speak a language which has a prescriptivist authority, then I recommend French or Spanish, they have institutes that declare what is and is not proper language, and if you disagree, then you're wrong. If you want a language that is generally descriptivist, then stick with the Germanic languages, where we recognize that the authority on language is a native speaker, and not some people locked up in a room declaring that "ain't isn't a word" even though 70% of the population uses it on a regular basis.

If I had mod points I'd give 'em to your post. Sitting next door to the OED lexicographers I couldn't have put it better myself.

Comment: Re:There are no "official" words (Score 2) 146

by carndearg (#37139474) Attached to: "Woot" Becomes an Official Word
It's nice to know that we're not "Any schmuck" :)

However my lexicographer colleagues would take issue with their decision to include a word granting it any sort of "official" status. They are scientists though they often don't see themselves as such, all their inclusion means is that they have found sufficient evidence of the word's use for them to consider it to be part of their record of contemporary English.

Whether a word is part of a user's "official" vocabulary is purely up to that user, not to anyone else and certainly not to us.

Comment: A response from the coal face (Score 5, Informative) 146

by carndearg (#37139434) Attached to: "Woot" Becomes an Official Word
Since the OED lexicographers are over an office divider from where I am sitting I guess I'm in a good position to answer this.

The most important point to make about modern dictionaries is that they are descriptive not prescriptive. That is to say that they describe the language as it evolves rather than tell you how you should use it. Lexicographers are like scientists though they do not generally consider themselves as such, everything they include in their dictionaries has made it there through painstaking linguistic research.

Please believe me when I tell you that my lexicographer colleagues have no interest in being 'hip'. Trust me on this one, I see them walk past my desk every day. Instead they are passionately interested in language and when a word has amassed enough evidence of usage in modern English they include it in their modern English dictionaries. Evidence of sufficiently common usage to be considered to have entered the language is their only value judgement.

It is also worth spelling out the differences between the different Oxford dictionaries. The OED is a massive multi-volume historical dictionary based on human research. You would use it to find the etymologies of words over a milennium. The Oxford Dictionary of English and the Concise Oxford English Dictionary however are corpus based dictionaries, they are derived from computational analysis of a billion-plus word corpus of contemporary English. That kind of stuff should be right up the average Slashdotter's street. Thus words like 'woot' and 'leet' (The lexicographers are funny about numbers in words, don't blame me) will not have been selected for trendiness but because the corpus analysis tells us people are using them.

The multi-volume book sells rather well as it happens. Not to many individuals but there are a lot of schools, universities and libraries in the world. And yes, we do have two dictionary websites. But as to a desperate attempt to stay profitable, the OED itself is not likely ever to do that. It took decades to produce its first edition, decades more for the second. We are a publishing company that is also a not-for-profit department of a major university so the OED is a project created for its academic value rather than its monetary return.

Comment: Re:No leetspeak (Score 1) 167

by carndearg (#35745482) Attached to: Getting L33t Into the Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford dictionaries are descriptive rather than prescriptive, which is to say they describe how the language is evolving rather than telling people how to use it. They are based on a lot of solid research on a multi-billion-word corpus of contemporary English as well as a huge printed gorpus of the last thousand years plus of written English. Thus if Igpay Atinlay (or any other "odd" word) started to show up significantly in the corpus of contemporary English then yes, it would merit its own entry.

You wouldn't want your tech fossilised in Shakespeare's day, so why would you want your language to have that happen to it?

Comment: lemmatisation (Score 4, Informative) 167

by carndearg (#35745352) Attached to: Getting L33t Into the Oxford English Dictionary
I'm an OUP employee, I work on http://oxforddictionaries.com/ and I sit just over a partition from the OED team so I guess I'm well placed to comment on this one. For a start, it already is in our dictionaries. http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/leet . Unfortunately though they have lemmatised it (rendered it into its simplest form) as the rather lame-sounding 'leet' rather than '1337'. Hey, give them a break, they're English graduates! This probably has a root in their research. Analysing the corpus to find out how much the word is used, they are probably ignoring numbers because their job is to look for words. This infographic showing our inclusion process might be illuminating: http://oxforddictionaries.com/page/newwordflowchart/how-a-new-word-enters-an-oxford-dictionary

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