Tag: coinage

09 Aug - Collective nouns

Who decides on the right collective noun for something?

The short answer is no one. While some languages, such as Spanish, French, and German, are ruled by committee there is no academy or governing body that decides on how English should evolve. Indeed English has never been under the administrative rule of a language academy. A keeper of English, according to the eighteenth-century English […]

Read more »
Virginia Woolf To The Lighthouse

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse, and the Oxford English Dictionary

Virginia Woolf was a prolific writer whose successes include works of fiction, biography, and essay. Her contributions to the English language are certainly not to be overlooked; indeed, she is among the top 1000 most cited sources in the Oxford English Dictionary, and had a predilection for coining terms—mostly phrasal adjectives—herself. Descriptions of “heavy-lidded” eyes, […]

Read more »
Thomas Browne

Sir Thomas Browne and the Oxford English Dictionary

Few authors cited in the Oxford English Dictionary are responsible for as many unusual words as the seventeenth century physician, Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682). Browne’s erudite enquiries into science and religion are notable for their wit, their fascination with the natural world, and their attraction to the esoteric, and all of these characteristics are evident […]

Read more »
Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley and the Oxford English Dictionary

So far as I know the whole of English fiction has only one character who works for the Oxford English Dictionary. In Aldous Huxley’s Eyeless in Gaza we see John Beavis at breakfast, with an unappreciated twinkle in his eye, explaining to two little children the etymology of porridge. He’s cited in the OED at […]

Read more »
discworld

Ach crivens! The language of Discworld

If you’re not familiar with the Discworld, the fantasy world created by author Sir Terry Pratchett which has featured in 39 bestselling novels, then you’ve certainly been missing out. For the uninitiated, Discworld is a flat world balanced on the backs of four giant elephants standing on the shell of the star turtle Great A’Tuin […]

Read more »
Clockwork Orange

What inspired the language of A Clockwork Orange?

In 1962, along came a shocking novel called A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, famously turned into a disturbing 1971 film directed by Stanley Kubrick. His dystopian novel, set sometime in the near-future, tells the story of teenage anti-hero Alex and his gang of friends, and their violent escapades. Tea-drinking and toast-munching Or put another way, […]

Read more »
Birthplace_slide2

Interactive image: the life and language of Shakespeare

For many of us, most of our knowledge of Shakespeare comes from what we were taught at school. But how much can you remember, other than the odd quotation (‘is this a dagger I see before me’ sticks in my mind)? Even if you didn’t do much Shakespeare at school, or it was too long […]

Read more »

Tweets