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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The distinguished Oxford
English Dictionary needs
The dictionary, widely regarded as the ultimate
authority on the English
language, has launched a worldwide appeal for words
as it prepares to go
online to mark the new millennium with the most
comprehensive lexicon ever.
Overwhelmed by a flood of new words, phrases and
technical terms coined in
the last 50 years, the OED is asking anyone who
speaks or reads English to
submit new words and documentation for them to
lexicographers working on
the first complete revision in the work's 120-year
``The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has a
reputation for being kind of
stodgy, yet this is an incredibly democratic
dictionary in which anyone can
participate,'' said Michelle McKenna, spokeswoman
for the dictionary's U.S.
``Anyone in the world can help us. As far as I
know, this exercise is
unique,'' McKenna said Tuesday.
The appeal for words is no mere marketing gimmick.
Published evidence must
accompany the words or phrases submitted to the
OED, so contributors will
have to do research.
The appeal echoes one issued by the OED's first
editor, James Murray, who
in 1879 asked for assistance in charting the
language. Nearly 400 men and
women obliged with more than 80,000 snippets of
Today's editors are looking for new words, slang or
regional phrases that
have entered written English recently, as well as
''new old words'' dating
from earlier centuries.
Were there any ``authority figures'' before 1954?
Or could you have ``been
there, done that'' before 1983? The OED wants to
Have you met any ``fashionistas'' (''critics of the
trends'') or ``sheddies'' (''people who pursue
their hobbies in sheds'') or
gone to a party that was complete ''pants''
The revision of the OED is scheduled to be
completed by 2010, but the
latest edition -- 20 volumes, published in 1996 --
will be available online
next March and is expected to be updated every six
months with incoming
And because the dictionary will be online, it will
have no limits.
``It can grow as big as the language. The idea is
just mind-boggling when
you think of getting the whole language down so
that it is all there as a
reflection of who we are,'' McKenna said.
Entries can be submitted at the OED's Web site (
http://www.oed.com) or by
mail or fax to OED offices in the United States,
Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.