Shorter Oxford English Dictionary - Sixth Edition (set of 2 books) Hardcover – 20 Sep 2007
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The new edition... has proved an authoritative, reliable, constantly surprising friend. (Mark Sanderson, Sunday Telegraph Books of the Year)
It is thoughtful in its definitions, systematic in its arrangement. It will help the careful user of words to be rightly understood. (John Whale, TLS)
From the beginning, the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary was intended to be an abridgement of the full Oxford English Dictionary. The first editor, William Little, was appointed in 1902. He worked on it until his death in 1922, after which the dictionary was completed by H. W. Fowler, Jessie Coulson, and C. T. Onions. The First Edition was published in 1933, in two volumes. The Second Edition, published in 1936, contained about 3,000 revisions and additions. The Third Edition (1944) contained an appendix of addenda and corrigenda, and this edition was reprinted several times with corrections and additions, the most significant being in 1973, with enlarged addenda (now running to over 70 pages) and a major revision of all the etymologies. The New Shorter was prepared under the editorship of Lesley Brown 1980-1993. It was the first complete revision of the dictionary, being in fact not so much an overhaul of the existing text as a reabridgement of the OED and its Supplements. The Fifth Edition was published in 2002, and reverted to the name Shorter Oxford English Dictionary to emphasize the link between this 2-volume dictionary and the original 20-volume OED.The Sixth Edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary provides a complete update of this unique reference work. Based on the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary, the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary contains an incredible one-third of the coverage of the Oxford English Dictionary, is just one-tenth of the size, and includes all words in current English from 1700 to the present day, plus the vocabulary of Shakespeare, the Bible and other major works in English from before 1700. The new edition, with a new introductory essay by language expert David Crystal on the History of English, includes 2,500 new words and senses, plus thousands of antedatings of existing words, drawing on the huge ongoing research project for the Oxford English Dictionary and the wealth of information on language in use provided by the Oxford English Corpus. In addition, the work includes many new quotations from recent authors, a refreshed design, and a complete review of spelling forms and defining vocabulary, making it the most authoritative reference work available for both modern and historical English.For scholars and everyone with a serious interest in the English language, the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary is an unrivalled resource, providing a unique description of the historical development of the language together with excellent coverage of current English. The Sixth Edition showcases the best of the traditional strengths of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, while bringing it up to date in its scholarship and research, in the design and layout, and in its treatment of the changing face of English.
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For example, most advanced learner's dictionaries include "halo" as a noun but no defined entry on its corresponding verb form. Also, the Shorter OED provides clearer definitions on simple words. For another example, "crotch" is not just about human groins, but also means "a fork of a tree or a bough" in a language context in which part of a tree is concerned.
A wonderful compilation!
I did, however, have a few problems with the dictionaries when they arrived. The first set had a big grease mark across a couple of pages, so I ordered a replacement only to find that that also was defective and had very poor print quality in the second volume, another set was ordered and the same issue was in that one. After this I gave up and decided to just keep the third one with the ink issue seen as it was just very faint, but still there.
Installation was a pleasant surprise. I have the full OED on cd and installing that can take quite a while. This was lightning fast. My operating system suggested that installation was faulty but on trying it out it worked fine.
I like the set up. It's easy to navigate around, very smooth. The entries, quotations etc. are clear.
As for the dictionary itself I have yet to make up my mind as I will need to work with it a little bit. In my opinion the OED is the best English dictionary for fulfilling the most important function of a dictionary - imparting an understanding of a word. This version of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary is less forbidding than the older versions which is all to the good. I expect and hope that this latest edition has not lost the clarity of explanation which is a hallmark of most Oxford dictionaries.
I was contemplating on purchasing the full OED (24 volumes) but decided against it and I'm glad I did.
After looking at the full 24 volume version I found it was far too much (overkill) so went with the shorter version which is 2 volumes.
More than enough detail and a pleasure to use!