Be part of our celebrations, starting with a new word appeal: ‘Words Where You Are’

Over the next twelve months, we will be marking the Oxford English Dictionary’s 90th birthday with a host of exciting initiatives.  A wealth of information celebrating the past, present, and future of one of the largest dictionaries in the world can be found at our OED90 website. 

Oxford English Dictionary word appeal - Words Where You Are

For state capture, tenderpreneur and expropriation without compensation to pop up in conversation, you probably need to have frequented the South African political landscape of the recent past. South Africa’s rich cultural diversity has, however, birthed a long history of amalgamations and borrowed words from all 11 official languages, and then some.

Where else but in our beloved country would tsotsis who hide out in dongas and smoke dagga make you sommer deurmekaar, would you be served sosaties and boerewors at a braai, or stop at a robot on your way to get your papsak from the local shebeen to help swallow your walkie talkies and slap chips? Lekker, bru.

It’s likely all of us can recall a moment when a word we’ve known and have been using for years at home turns out to be completely baffling to people from another English-speaking region.  While many such words are common in speech, some are rarely written down and therefore can easily escape the attention of dictionary editors. 

The OED is trying to create the most comprehensive, accurate, and up to date picture of how and where these words are used, and we need your help.  So, wherever you are, we want to hear about words and expressions that are distinctive to where you live or where you are from.  Send them to our website or join the conversation on Twitter at #wordswhereyouare. 

Michael Proffitt, Chief Editor of the OED, says “The OED’s comprehensive record of the English language is also an index of sorts to people’s tireless creativity and diversity over many centuries. Regional words are among the most distinctive, inventive, and evocative in the language. They can create a sense of belonging - of childhood, family, or home - or a sense of difference.  Because many regional words occur in speech more than in writing, they don’t always get the recognition they deserve in dictionaries. 

"Tell us about the words you think are specific to your part of the world, and help us improve the dictionary’s description of English where you are.”

Phillip Louw, Dictionary Content Development Manager at OUP South Africa said that through detailed analysis of large text collections, "Oxford’s dictionary-makers have kept an eagle eye on South African English as it’s used in a variety of genres – fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, magazines, blogs, etc. The OED’s initiative gives us a chance to find those hidden gems that are part of everyday conversations: from braais, to lekgotlas, to after (tears) parties. It’s a chance for South Africans to showcase the wit and linguistic innovation we use to make sense of our shared reality.”  

Notes for Editors

 

To interview a Dictionaries editor about OED90 or our Words Where You Are appeal, or for any further information, please contact:

 

Marilyn Watson

eMail:    marilyn@cinnamonomcommunication.co.za

Cell no: 0828977752

 

SOCIAL MEDIA:

#OED90; #wordswhereyouare,

 

WHAT IS THE OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY (OED)?

The OED is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of over 829,000 words, senses, and compounds – past and present – from across the English-speaking world. As a historical dictionary, the OED is very different from those of current English, in which the focus is on present-day meanings. You'll still find these in the OED, but you'll also find the history of individual words, and of the language – traced through over 3.3 million quotations, from classic literature and specialist periodicals to film scripts and cookery books. View  HYPERLINK "http://public.oed.com/about/frequently-asked-questions/"OED  HYPERLINK "http://public.oed.com/about/frequently-asked-questions/"FAQs here.

 

HOW DOES A WORD QUALIFY FOR INCLUSION IN THE OED?

The OED requires several independent examples of the word being used, and also evidence that the word has been in use for a reasonable amount of time. The exact time-span and number of examples may vary: for instance, one word may be included on the evidence of only a few examples, spread out over a long period of time, while another may gather momentum very quickly, resulting in a wide range of evidence in a shorter space of time. We also look for the word to reach a level of general currency where it is unselfconsciously used with the expectation of being understood: that is, we look for examples of uses of a word that are not immediately followed by an explanation of its meaning for the benefit of the reader. We have a large range of words under constant review, and as items are assessed for inclusion in the dictionary, words which have not yet accumulated enough evidence are kept on file, so that we can refer back to them if further evidence comes to light.

About Oxford University Press

Oxford University Press (OUP) is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. OUP is the world’s largest university press with the widest global presence. It currently publishes thousands of new publications a year, has offices in around 50 countries, and employs nearly 7,000 people worldwide. It has become familiar to millions of people through a diverse publishing programme that includes scholarly works in all academic disciplines, Bibles, music, school and college textbooks, children’s books, materials for teaching English as a foreign language, business books, dictionaries and reference books, and academic journals.

In Africa, OUP has offices in South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania, from which it publishes bespoke schools and higher education resources across southern and eastern Africa. OUP’s academic, schools, and English language teaching resources are also sold in most other African countries.

In South Africa, Oxford University Press is the number one literacy publisher and is well-known for their reading schemes, the publishing of the world’s most trusted dictionaries (including dictionaries in all local languages), as well as innovative digital solutions for blended learning. Oxford University Press also supports teachers with free teacher workshops and in 2016 started the Institute of Professional Development for Educators, which offers SACE-endorsed teacher-training courses. All our education materials are of superior quality and we are committed to supplying these at the most affordable prices.