Jenny List

Jenny List was an Online Development Specialist for Oxford Dictionaries.

Articles by Jenny List

Alan Turing

ELIZA: a real example of a Turing test

In honour of Alan Turing, mathematician, cryptanalyst, and progenitor of computer science, we wanted to provide you with a demonstration of one of the areas in which his work has had an influence on the English language. The Turing test, ‘a test for intelligence in a computer, requiring that a human being should be unable to […]

Alan Turing

From CAPTCHA to morphogen: how Alan Turing has influenced modern English

Alan Turing was a 20th-century mathematician and computer scientist, most famous today for his cryptanalysis work during World War II in which he and others at Bletchley Park broke the German Enigma ciphers and created the first electronic computers. But his influence stretches far beyond that achievement, into the English language and even into the modern gay […]


Cheers, slainte, bottoms up… the language of beer

I have a school friend who follows Arsenal F.C. wherever they go. His devotion to the team takes him on a yearly tour of the English Premier League, but has also sent him to football-crazy cities all over the world. He has a simple philosophy with respect to learning foreign languages that would probably shock […]

Gaelic, Scottish, and Welsh loanwords

Welsh, Scottish, and Gaelic loanwords

One of the facets of English that makes a job working with dictionary data so interesting is its readiness to appropriate loanwords from other languages – seeing the etymology of a familiar word such as ‘ketchup’ for example, and finding it probably has its origins in Chinese. Everybody needs good neighbours We see plenty of […]


We plough the fields and scatter…

To drive away from our base here in Oxford and out into the surrounding countryside at this time of year is to witness a scene of intense activity. It’s harvest time, and since the British climate can be unpredictable the farmers are moving as quickly as they can to bring in their crops before the […]

All hail the superbike!

All hail the superbike!

Congratulations to Carlos Checa, winner of Round 9 of this year’s Superbike World Championship held yesterday at Silverstone Circuit, a relatively short ride north from our base here in Oxford. If you are not a motorcyclist and you have never been to a race meeting, then the excitement and adrenaline generated by the spectacle may […]

When ‘bittersweet’ is a good thing


For cider makers, June was probably a busy month. October’s apple pressing produced the juice which has been quietly fermenting through winter and spring, and now the rough young cider must be put into bottles and set aside to mature. Cider-making has a rich vocabulary, so to ease my slight guilt at not yet having […]


‘Hacker’ is a badge of honour where I come from

A trait that is common to logophiles everywhere is the linguistic pet peeve: a word or phrase that sets our teeth on edge when we encounter it.  A colleague of mine cringes whenever she hears someone refer to an initialism as an acronym, for example. Pet peeves One of my pet peeves relates to my […]