Literati and the language tool

Feb 02, 2015, 12:29 IST | Suprita Mitter

Sunday, February 1 marked 131 years since the first Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was published. Regarded as comprehensive and an accurate benchmark of the English language, it continues to develop and grow today, even as its digital avatar flourishes alongside. The guide invites people to share their views on this language tool

Our research showed that students are struggling with pronunciation and worry about having to give presentations and speaking in exams. Conversations in English are also challenging, as learners often feel that they don’t have the right vocabulary to cope.


The new tools in the ninth edition will support students in all these aspects of language learning and are designed to develop good speaking and communication skills. The recently launched ninth edition is such a rich resource of information and help that we’ve created videos and worksheets to help teachers make their students aware of how using the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (OALD) can develop language skills – especially writing and speaking skills. The OALD, I believe, will enrich the learning experience.

Patrick White
Patrick White- Head of Dictionaries in the English Language Teaching Division, Oxford University Press

I have through my life as a reader, a writer and a teacher, owned many copies of the Oxford dictionaries. I don’t know if I, or any writer in English, can ever express the debt I owe to the OED. In Elphinstone College, my friend Jehangir Palkhivala and I would check almost everything in the dictionary and its word was law. I love reading about dictionaries too and enjoyed very much Chasing the Sun: Dictionary-makers and the Dictionaries They Made by Jonathon Green. I was delighted to find that a surgeon and a madman had contributed to the growth of the Oxford English Dictionary. The story is magnificently told in The Surgeon of Crowthorne by Simon Winchester. To think of this man in his lonely jail cell, working on finding examples of words and phrases and sending them in, is heartening and magnificent.

Jerry Pinto
Jerry Pinto- Academician, author, poet and translator

Oxford English Dictionary is an irreplaceable part of English culture. It provides an important record of the evolution of our language. Continuing the technological innovation, the dictionary is now available online. It is difficult to sell copies of the dictionary on shelves ever since the online editions have been available. Others like the  Encyclopedia Britannica have faced the same problem earlier and have been discontinued hence. When people do choose to buy a physical copy, they tend to buy the  two-volume edition called the Shorter Oxford Dictionary which has more than three lakh words. The Pocket Oxford English Dictionary is still popular with children as most schools, including the one that my son studies in, prefer the Oxford English Dictionary and recommend it to their students.

T Jagath
T Jagath- COO, Kitab Khana bookstore

A well-thumbed copy of the OED has been a prominent member of my bookshelf for as long back as I can remember. In Amar Chitra Katha, we need to simplify words for children and the dictionary is very helpful for that. What is good is that they regularly update the dictionary so one can keep abreast of what is current, and at the same time, have a reliable place to go to for what I’d call, regular English words.

Rachna Puri
Reena Puri- Editor, ACK Comics, India

Recent additions

>> The Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary (OALD) launched its 9th edition recently on January 19, 2015. Global research, involving 14,000 teachers and students, led Oxford University Press to discover that speaking is now regarded as the most challenging aspect of learning English. The 9th edition includes the new iSpeaker and Speaking Tutor, designed specifically to provide the help learners of English need to become effective communicators.

>> The new edition includes over 700 new words and meanings in the print dictionary, and a further 200 added to the DVD and online versions. Of these, over 240 are from Indian English.

>> Over 60% of the new Indian English words come from Hindi, while others — such as biodata (for CV or résumé), or gymkhana (a public place with sports facilities) — may seem familiar to all speakers of English but have a different meaning in Indian English.

>> Indian words for food or cooking ingredients, which are used internationally, such as keema (finely chopped meat), papad (poppadum), and curry leaf, have also been included for the first time.
Source: Oxford University Press

Go to top