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Saturday, May 06, 2006.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary, 9th & 10th Edition

The 9th edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary is 14 per cent larger than the eighth and it takes further the changes in methodology and presentation that were introduced in its predecessor. These changes were in two main areas: firstly, the use of computer technology; and secondly, the aim of making the information contained in the dictionary more accessible to the user.

With regard to the use of computer technology, the COD has benefited in this edition not only from the availability of the previous edition in the form of an electronically tagged database, but from access to large bodies of corpus and citational evidence. The British National Corpus, a database containing over 100,000,000 words of text, has been the most significant of these, together with the OUP Dictionary Department’s vast computerized collection of selected citations and its other computerized dictionary texts including the twenty-volume Oxford English Dictionary. The gathering of evidence for new words and usages has been greatly enhanced by electronic access to these sources, and the dictionary is now able to incorporate more quickly and reflect more accurately changes that have arisen in the language since the previous edition, with additions being made to the text right up to the time of printing. As a result, this edition contains over 7,000 new words and senses in a wide variety of areas. For example, the growing availability of international cuisine in Britain and elsewhere is reflected by the use in English of terms such as bhaji, fajita, gravlax, penne, sharon fruit, and many others; in the field of politics we have dream ticket, Euro-rebel, placeman, rainbow coalition, and spin doctor; in ecology new terms such as arcology, carr, ecocide, greening, and wind farm have arisen; in science and medicine, blue box, bronchodilator, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Feynman diagram, hyperspace, nicad, packet switching, repetitive strain injury, and wormhole.

Access to large corpora has also facilitated the statistical evaluation of disputed spellings, a reassessment of the hyphenation of compound nouns and a review of the italicization or otherwise of foreign words and phrases. The general trends away from the hyphenating of compound nouns and away from the italicization of foreign words and phrases are now recorded in the dictionary. For example, instead of being hyphenated, aftercare, postdoctoral, and teardrop are now usually written as one word, while boiler room, hand grenade, and taxi driver are usually found as separate words. Similarly, en route, hoi polloi, and tour de force now tend to be written in roman rather than italic script, reflecting their increased assimilation into English. In addition to these changes, some proprietary terms are now recorded in the dictionary with a lower case initial letter, also reflecting general usage (but not affecting their legal proprietary status).

Another important feature of this edition has been the enlisting of special consultants for North American usage, which has enabled us to improve our coverage of this area and to apply geographical labels more accurately. Examples of new North American entries are antsy, badass, ditzy, drywall, all-wheel drive, Latino, pork barrel, road kill, sweat sock, and upchuck.

Special attention has been given to the improvement of coverage in science and technology. Many terms which have become familiar outside the pages of technical books and journals have been added, especially in life sciences (including natural history) and computing, such as accelerator board, biocide, client-server, flash memory, and ketamine, and their definitions seek to balance comprehensibility and precision.

The aim to make the information contained in the dictionary more accessible to the user has resulted firstly in extending the policy of ‘denesting’ begun in the eighth edition. In this edition all compound nouns have been given their own entries rather than being ‘nested’ under their first element. This makes them easier to find and results in fewer extremely long entries. Attention has also been given to making etymologies clearer by minimizing the use of abbreviations and bracketed information and by the use of clearer punctuation. Usage Notes, which were previously buried within entries, have been extracted, expanded, and placed at the end of entries. A clearer style of explanation has been adopted and many more illustrative examples given.Finally, the pronunciations have been thoroughly revised, giving a more up-to-date representation of the standard British English accent (Received Pronunciation) by means of the International Phonetic Alphabet, in line with the system introduced into the New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.

9th Edition

10th Edition

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