Tag: Oxford English Corpus

Agreement

A quest for agreement over collective nouns

I’d like to begin with a quick mental workout. Do you know which of the following sentences, both found in the same British online newspaper in 2003, would be considered incorrect according to standard British and American usage, and why? Colchester police has also queried the proposal. Colchester police have launched a new tough approach […]

An interactive guide to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary

An interactive guide

The Concise Oxford Dictionary is 100 years old! To celebrate the centenary of this bestselling dictionary we have created a fascinating interactive tour charting the history of this landmark publication. Explore our interactive guide to discover the story of a dictionary that has been a trusted guide to English for millions of people, and has faithfully recorded how our […]

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Alphabet

28 million words, one corpus, and thousands of fascinating insights

Have you ever been told as a child to ‘stop daydreaming’ and pay attention? Then you will be interested to know that daydreaming is a word that is invariably used in a negative context by adults but in a much more positive sense by children. Examples from the Oxford English Corpus (a vast electronic collection […]

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Shifted meanings: marriage

Just married

Last week New York became the sixth state in the US (and the largest so far) to pass legislation that would allow same-sex marriage. The law was promptly signed by the Governor, and should be in effect within the month. It is fairly common knowledge that the word gay has changed its meaning over the […]

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Unspellable words? Impossible!

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde’s phrase ‘the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable’ points us to the un- words, an unexhausted yet unassuming and unexplored group of words which stand as a challenge to Napoleon. The Emperor once said ‘the word impossible is not in my dictionary’. Dictionaries have got a lot better since Napoleon’s day and impossible […]

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Bawways and smellsip: James Joyce’s English

Bloomsday

‘Bloomsday’ is commemorated throughout the world on June 16, celebrating the day, in 1904, on which the action of James Joyce’s groundbreaking novel Ulysses takes place. The word cloud above showcases just a few of the contributions to the English language made by James Joyce in all of his works, not just Ulysses. From dreck […]

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Goals galore but no parrots: a hundred-word football vocabulary

hundred-word football vocabulary

Fabio Capello, the Italian-born England football manager, was recently reported as saying that he could manage his players with just one hundred words of English. At the time there was much speculation as to which hundred words he would need to achieve this, and the BBC contacted Oxford Dictionaries for a list of the 100 […]

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It’s all meme, me me…

Lolcat

When Richard Dawkins coined the word meme in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, he wanted a word like gene that conveyed the way in which ideas and behaviour spread within society by non-genetic means: The new soup is the soup of human culture. We need a name for the new replicator, a noun which […]

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