Top positive review
54 people found this helpful
THE WIDEST WORLD OF WORDS --- LITERALLY
on 18 October 2002
I f you love words, their meanings and origins, (and you've got a few quid or dollars to spare — and have got the shelf space), you've just got to get yourself a hardcopy set of the OED.
With the world of words rapidly going on-line, this definitive 20-volume lexicon of the English language will in a generation or so almost certainly become a collector's item if not a museum piece.
The OED is an incredible record of 19th and 20th Century Anglophone civilization, and deserves to become a treasured heirloom by our grandchildren and further generations in this new Millennium.
Dictionaries are much more than spellcheckers and crossword puzzle solvers. A dictionary like the OED has its real power and value in its use as an etymological tool. It’s the origin of words and where they were first used that gives us a fundamental understanding of our language.
For lovers of Shakespeare there are references to words first appearing in his works on almost every page of the OED. A great on-line project would be to hyperlink a "Complete Works" of the Bard to the OED with all the non-common words he uses.
One word of warning to book lovers and potential owners of the OED ---- Make sure your four feet of shelf space is well shielded from direct sunlight. Those gorgeous royal blue fly-covers will fade very quickly if over exposed to UV.
If you were given the choice of what books you could take to that hypothetical desert island, the OED would have to be the linguaphiles choice. It is the perfect encapsulation and guide to what our language and culture is all about.
As a footnote you have to admire that quirky but subtle British humour that shines through even in the serious world of dictionary publishing. Check out the spines of Volumes VII and XVII where they are indexed with the first and last word in each volume.
In Volume VII we have " Hat -- Intervacuum ". Is the OED subtly telling us what lurks under a Stetson? Volume XVI is indexed from " Soot -- Styx'. Is this evidence that there is a hot and smoky welcome on the other side of that river between here and hell?