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Sci-Fi

Major Update For OED Science Fiction Project 112

ColdChrist writes "The Oxford English Dictionary Science Fiction project was last reported on here back in March 2004. The site has been redesigned and relaunched; the biggest change is that the OED's database of citations of SF words is now made (mostly) available via the website. The OED (a nonprofit organization) does not usually make its work available in this way, but OED has agreed to publicly open up this part of its database to acknowledge the great contribution volunteers have made to this project. That means that if you contribute a cite, it's viewable by everyone; see here for more details. Also, quite a few more words are being added from an internal pending list."
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Major Update For OED Science Fiction Project

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    It still wont get you laid.
  • hoo boy (Score:5, Funny)

    by aendeuryu ( 844048 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @06:54PM (#11895076)
    I grok the pain his webserver is going to feel.
  • Quite a few of the new additions are just compounds of existing words. I'd associate new addtions as concepts, like 'grok' for which there wasn't aready an equivilent.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    enough to write some cromulent sci-fi.
  • by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @06:58PM (#11895114) Homepage
    Google Dictionary. Coming soon from a Google Labs near you. With all the dictionaries out there, Urbandictionary, Technical dictionaries, Oxford English, Acronym dictionaries, and now this SF dictionary, its time for a good way to search them.
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @07:00PM (#11895131) Homepage Journal
    Hey, OED: my Nemory [wikipedia.org] entry is available for reprint in your dictionary, provided your "earliest citation" credits its Wikipedia entry.
    • Let's see... what does google say about "nemory"... Forums where people have mispelled memory (mostly referring to RAM) and google link farming sites for pharmaceuticals spammers. Looks like you just made it up.
      • Unenlightened people think that nemories are "just made up" - some kind of "science fiction". Study the entry and learn the difference.
    • From OED's web site:

      Throughout its history, the Oxford English Dictionary has been enriched by evidence contributed by readers. One hundred and twenty years ago, James Murray, original editor of the OED, launched an 'Appeal to the English-Speaking and English-Reading Public of Great Britain, America and the British Colonies' for words for the Dictionary. This appeal was relaunched in 1999 by the current editor, John Simpson . . .

      Obviously, OED editors haven't come across the new 'wiki' word yet.

      • The OED is in a funny situation. It has always relied on volunteers (it may have paid a few of them something, but not much). But it has always had quite simple (if unjustifiable) criteria ie appearing in print for words (verbal doesnt count). So you can produce evidence for its words, although there are errors particularly with foreign words used in English where they mistake similar sounding words (I found a few but couldnt be bothered to report them).

        Wiktionary alas doesnt bother with citations, which i
    • Sorry, they don't include quotes from non-printed sources. Quote from their How to Cite [jessesword.com] page:

      Please note that the OED is only able to include quotes from dateable

      printed sources, typically books and magazines, but also physical copies of movie scripts, dated programs from cons, fanzines, unpublished papers, etc. However, Web pages, E-books, Usenet posts, movies themselves, and similar sources can not be quoted directly. Web pages may have useful historical information that will allow us to track down pri

      • If the OED continues to insist on that citation policy, they're going to drift apart from the language, and become irrelevant. I'd prefer disciplined expert commentary on English from the OED to cross-reference the transient pronouncements of sources like Wikipedia, but Wikipedia's natural distribution advantages will bury the OED if the OED ignores it. Live on paper, die with paper. As the OED itself is distriubted as bits, I expect they'll eventually find a way to cite documents of similar composition - o
    • To anyone who might know:
      What is the difference between
      The Meaning of Everything [amazon.com]
      The Surgeon of Crowthorne [amazon.com]
      and the book mentioned in the parent post?

      I'm quite a fan of Winchester works, but he seems to have sqeezed this topic a little too much...

      • Not informed, so I will take wild, stabbing guesses:

        I first noticed that they had different publishers... Maybe for whatever reason he could change the title and sell it with someone else? I mean 'The Professor' and 'The Surgeon' almost have the same damn cover!

        As far as 'The Meaning' my guess is that Mr. Winchester spent a very long time putting together all kinds of information on the OED as he was researching for 'The Professor' and decided, "Hey, I'll write a book based on this too."

        Considering that
        • Isn't that how things just end in reality? I always thought his books were dull, but perhaps they're just too close to reality for me. All of my last 7 jobs ended when the site I worked at blew up. Is that just bad luck on my part?
      • The Meaning of Everything is a history of the whole project of the OED. The Surgeon of Crowthorn (Professor and the Madman in the US) is just one small story about the OED. It's like the difference between a book about the whole Civil War and a book about Antietam.
      • The Professor and the Madman is th US title of The Surgeon of Crowthorne.
  • Damn (Score:5, Funny)

    by Yeshua ( 93307 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @07:01PM (#11895142)

    How are we going to maintain our separation from society (or should I say elitism) if anyone can just look up what the hell we mean??

  • If they want to really open it up, they should combine their efforts with that of Wiktionary [wiktionary.org]

    --
    Free iPod? Try a free Mac Mini [freeminimacs.com]
    Or a free Nintendo DS, GC, PS2, Xbox [freegamingsystems.com]
    Wired article as proof [wired.com]
    • I was thinking that if they want to open something up in order to acknowledge contributions, they should open up their dictionary site, since every word in it was a result of society's evolution, and nothing to do with them. But I guess that's too non-profit for some organisations, huh? ;)
  • The site has been redesigned and relaunched; the biggest change is that the OED's database of citations of SF words is now made (mostly) available via the website. The OED (a nonprofit organization) does not usually make its work available in this way, but OED has agreed to publicly open up this part of its database to acknowledge the great contribution volunteers have made to this project.

    What did they intend to do with a private SF words database in the first place? It's not like they're doing anyone a f
    • Re:Heh? (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What would ANYONE do with a SF words database anyway? I'm confused...

      Do you know what a "dictionary" (as in "Oxford English Dictionary") is? It's kind of like a database of words.

      Guess what? There's a lot of words used in SF that aren't used much in other areas, or that have different meanings in SF. The OED wants to document the whole English language, and that necessarily includes the English used in SF literature.

      And you know what as well? A lot of SF fans like reading SF literature. So the OED
  • Wiktionary (Score:4, Informative)

    by PxM ( 855264 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @07:11PM (#11895229)
    If Google continues to support Wikipedia or even acquire it, then they might increase the support for Wiktionary [slashdot.org]. However, the answers.com thing they have set up is pretty nice since it brings a bunch of dictionary and similar references together.

    --
    Free iPod? Try a free Mac Mini [freeminimacs.com]
    Or a free Nintendo DS, GC, PS2, Xbox [freegamingsystems.com]
    Wired article as proof [wired.com]
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) ( 613870 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @07:15PM (#11895253) Journal
    Because then the person who contributed this story could see that 'cite' is a verb, not a noun. "Contribute a cite"! Ugh!
  • [Scotty Voice]Captain, Their Server Blew Up, She Couldn't Take The Pow'r[/Scotty Voice] Although it is defiantly interesting, and for what it's worth (and the very few seconds i saw of it) I like it =)
  • This is good news, but the people at the OED Fantasy Fiction project are really getting pissed at all the publicity that the SF project keeps getting.
  • The server operates using Block Transfer Computations [jargon.net] on a positronic core.
  • It didn't include the word jedi.

    On the plus side, it does include klingon.

    LK
  • science? or sci-fi? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pedantic bore ( 740196 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @07:34PM (#11895380)
    I always thought that words like "galactic", "airlock" and "core" were actual words, not science fiction...

    And terms like "megayear", "kiloday"; well it's hard to see why they need defining at all. Even though I'm a pedantic bore, it still seems overgeekly.

    • Of course galactic, airlock and core are standard english words. Perhaps, their meanings in a SF context, are what's recorded in a SF dictionary.
      • Perhaps, their meanings in a SF context, are what's recorded in a SF dictionary.

        To be fair, there are many words that have very different meanings in different context, for a blatant example there's the scientific meaning of theory, then there's the creationists' "evolution is only a theory" meaning which confuses the scientific meaning with the layman's meaning, much more like a hypothesis in science.

        But when an [good] science fiction story takes a word from science, I see no reason to change the meani
    • I see a huge ptoential for problems here as different authors in the past have defined their own meaning for words. Some of the more common words are in the most peril. A Phaser Rifle in one context may be something completely different in another. Depending on the time the story waas written, I would expect that the definition would change to more closely match actual science. But if the Dictionary remains true to it's prupose, it will be categorizing the word based on it's earliest instance. I can se
    • The OED is possibly the most geeky 'book' out there, tracking the development and usage of pretty much every word in the English language.

      The OED tracks the fact that these words ARE BEING USED, not the fact that they exist.

      In absolute terms, it is probably the single largest scholarly work in existence.
  • ... I've lost the name and author of the story, but still have the book which is somewhere in my collection of four boxes of second hand sci-fi books. The hard way is going to read every book again...
  • by RealAlaskan ( 576404 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @08:10PM (#11895591) Homepage Journal
    The OED is great: it's the authoritative source for the meaning of an English word in some era.

    The OED was put together by a large army of volunteers, who laboriously found and copied out examples of the use of words over the years, researched the etymology, and mailed the information to the editor. The editors (the project took 71 years (or less than 50, or more than 100, depending on how you choose to count), and several editors died of old age along the way) would assemble the scraps of information into a coherent entry for every word which was ever used in written English.

    But, I think they're charging a lot for their dictionary, and I wouldn't donate any material to them.

    Oxford and Clarendon Press only paid for a small staff, and the vast majority of the gruntwork was done by the army of English and American volunteer philologists. The 12 volume reissue was done in 1933, and the main body of the work hasn't changed since then, though they do issue supplements. In short, they've long since recovered their costs, and any income from it is pure profit.

    It seems to me that the OED is something of a profit center for them. I would be happy to make contributions to a project which was making my free contribution freely available to all. If Oxford wants me to contribute to their cash cow, they can send me some of the cash.

    • Yeah, I have never understood why the cdrom OED is so expensive. Just to subsidize the paper edition, perhaps? If that's the case, the paper edition should be allowed to die gracefully. It's way too big anyway.
    • I'd like to correct the impression that the OED is a profit centre for OUP. The OED, and in fact all of OUP, is a non-profit, and the OED runs at a loss of millions of pounds a year, a loss borne by the rest of OUP. The amount charged for the dictionary only just covers the cost of distributing it (i.e. either printing etc. or supporting the Web servers etc.), but not the cost of having sixty full-time staff members and hundreds of paid consultants. The OED does also work hard to try to make the dictiona
      • I'd like to correct the impression that the OED is a profit centre for OUP

        I'm not convinced. Perhaps you're referring to "The" OED only, the 24+ volume full thing. But OUP derives many smaller dictionaries from that text: the Concise, Pocket, etc, CDROM and online versions, and many specialised ones. If the bulk of the data collection is written off against The OED, then of course it's running at a loss. But the sale of all dictionaries, I'm sure, is making a nice profit. Everyone in my family has at leas

    • The 12 volume reissue was done in 1933, and the main body of the work hasn't changed since then, though they do issue supplements. In short, they've long since recovered their costs, and any income from it is pure profit.

      What ARE you talking about? The 2nd Edition was completed in 1989, at a cost of 13 million pounds, and they have been revising it constantly since then. See [oed.com] for yourself.

  • What?! No whuffie [craphound.com]?

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