Nu Wrds 4 Old
Wordsmiths Assess Evolution Of Dictionaries
of the future may be filled with definitions of texting as they continue to
chart social change and technological advances through the use of language.
there is nothing new about the truncated use of language to communicate - people
were at it during the 18th century claims the organiser of an international
conference on dictionaries at the University of Leicester.
speaker at the International Conference on Historical Lexicography and
Lexicology will chart the development of the word 'pregnancy' through the
will dwell on ornamental illustrations in French dictionaries while one paper
will discuss the evolution of the term 'bachelor'.
Dr Julie Coleman of the University of Leicester's Department of English said:
"Dictionaries are far more than just lists of words - they provide a
character reference of a language.
Through their content, dictionaries reflect many things including the
changes in technology,
and in social and cultural values.
example, complaints about the use of abbreviated terms were made during the 18th
century too. Joseph Addison complained about people using 'mob' [from 'mobile',
itself an abbreviation of 'mobile vulgus' "the moveable (excitable)
crowd"], 'rep' [for 'reputation'], 'pos' [for 'positive'], and 'incog' [for
of the past would omit words which were considered unfit for usage or mark them
as 'low', indicating that any user of such a word was the same.
day dictionaries rarely exclude such words for this reason and usually provide
no instruction as to which words should and should not be used."
changes in technologies and ideologies are also reflected in dictionaries.
New words for such areas are constantly being introduced - words that no
one had imagined twenty or even five years ago.
This is highlighted by the annual publication of the Oxford English
Dictionary 'New Words' book.
conference is set to be an opportunity for people writing on similar areas to
come together and share the benefits of one another's knowledge.
Talks will be given on a variety of 'sub-topics' ranging from 'Place
names and Historical Lexicography' to 'Definitions for a New Age',"
said Dr Coleman.
speaker, Professor Manfred Markus of the University of Innsbruck, will examine
The Expression of Pregnancy in the History of English.
has found about 140 words relating to pregnancy in the Oxford English
Dictionary- some in terms of animals or objects, some metaphorical descriptions,
factual and camouflaged usage.
states: "Pregnancy has also been referred to in a downtoning way. The
results of this investigation reveal a historical increase in metaphorical
sophistication, a tendency to camouflage (18th to 20th century), and to
downtoning in the 20th century."
conference takes place from July 15th to July 17th at the University conference
centres in Oadby. More
information is available on http://www.le.ac.uk/ee/jmc21/hll.htm
to newsdesk: For more information:
This document has been approved by the head of department or section.