|Weekly News Digest
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Oxford English Dictionary Appeals to the Public for Help
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) announced the launch of OED Appeals, a major online initiative set to involve the public in tracing the history of English words. Using a dedicated community space on the OED website, editors are soliciting help in unearthing new information about the history and usage of English, including the earliest examples of particular words. The website will enable the public to post evidence in direct response to OED editors online, fostering a collective effort to record the English language and find the true roots of our vocabulary.
Appeals will be posted to the website on a frequent basis. Some of the entries the OED team is initially asking the public’s help with include the following:
Can you provide evidence of "bellini" before 1965? The famous cocktail of peach juice mixed with Prosecco or champagne is said to have been invented in Venice at Harry’s Bar in the 1930s, and named (in Italian) in 1948 (in honour of the painter Giovanni Bellini, c1430-1516). Earlier evidence in English may be available in travelogues or guidebooks.
come in from the cold
Did John le Carré coin the phrase? Meaning ‘(esp. of a spy) to return from isolation, concealment, or exile,’ it is famous from le Carré’s 1963 novel The Spy who Came in from the Cold but was it ever used by actual intelligence officers?
Do you have proof of the earliest FAQ? The term is currently attributed to Eugene N. Miya, a researcher at NASA, who is said to have coined it c1983 in documents circulated to Usenet groups on the history of the space programme. Our earliest verifiable evidence is from 1989 but we’d like to go back further to prove the coinage of the word.
Other entries now open on the OED Appeals site at launch include in your dreams!, cooties, and Kwanzaa. The OED Appeals site will be updated regularly; other words scheduled for research in the coming weeks include baked Alaska, bimble, carbo-loading, easy-peasy, email, heads-up, and party animal. Followers of the OED on Twitter and Facebook will be alerted to new Appeals and can keep abreast of new word evidence as it comes to light.
The OED’s expansive record of the history of English has relied on input from the public since its earliest days, from the original Appeal for contributions from "a thousand readers" in 1859, to the popular BBC TV program Balderdash & Piffle in 2005. The online OED Appeals brings the public into conversation with the dictionary’s professional lexicographers more directly than ever before.
Follow on Twitter: @OEDonline.
Watch this video: Senior Editor Fiona McPherson introduces OED Appeals
Source: Oxford University Press
Paula J. Hane
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