Tuesday, 16th December 2014

by Joshua Gaskell

Delivering the Romanes Lecture of 1900 – on the history of lexicography at Oxford – editor James Murray set out the principles of the Oxford English Dictionary, to be published by the Oxford University Press. In the high-minded spirit of Murray’s great undertaking, the OUP yesterday launched a ‘Lolcat Generator’, so it seems highly appropriate to quote Murray’s inspiring words through that medium:

diz dictionary superaddz to all teh featurez dat haz been successiveleh evolved by teh long chain ov workerz, teh historicul informashun which Dr Trench desiderated. It seekz not mereleh to record every word dat haz been used in teh language for teh lazt 800 yearz, wif itz written form an signification, an teh pronunciashun ov current werdz, buut to furnish a biography ov each word, givin az nearleh az possibel teh daet ov itz birf or firzt known appearance.

The Dr Trench referred to is Richard Chenevix Trench, who initiated the whole OED project by presenting two papers to the Philological Society in 1857. They were jointly entitled ‘On Some Deficiencies in our English Dictionaries’.