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- The Meaning Of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary
You are left wondering what was left out- what silences are there? Despite this issue, the book does an excellent job of making an otherwise obscure story into an exciting case study. As I mentioned before, there are a million little surprising facts that make the story worthwhile. Winchester excels at keeping his reader engaged and fascinated. Despite the questions I have about the conclusions he draws, there is no doubt that he committed a substantial amount of time and an enormous amount of effort to researching the topic.
The Meaning of Everything is an example of a work of popular history that succeeds in being both captivating and informative. The story of the OED is not one that many people know about, nor is it one that will ever be common knowledge. But it is definitely worthwhile to read The Meaning of Everything , if only to have the pleasure of experiencing vicariously the passion and excitement Simon Winchester has for the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. Published by Laura Madokoro on March 20, at 7: I loved this book!
The Meaning of Everything: March 24, at 2: Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Comment Name Email Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. A Revolutionary Manumission Abolitionist? I've fallen in love with his writing style which sou I can't recommend this enough. I've fallen in love with his writing style which sounds to me as though it's meant to be read aloud by a middle-aged British man.
I've now onto his Map That Changed the World. Sep 14, Barry rated it it was amazing. Simon Winchester's wonderful book on the making of the most venerable authority on the English language is a delightful story. I have enjoyed both the hard copy and the CD read by the author.
Oct 09, Celia rated it really liked it Shelves: Simon Winchester has done it again. A clear concise study of the history of the Oxford English Dictionary. I have already read one of his books, The Madman and the Professor, which describes one of the aspects of the project. This book followed that one and described the entire history instead of only one area. I listened to the audio narrated by the author, but also borrowed the book from the library. It is full of pictures of all the people who were involved, as well as an index of subjects an Simon Winchester has done it again.
It is full of pictures of all the people who were involved, as well as an index of subjects and a list of further reading. If you thought that creating a dictionary of this magnitude was easy, sorry, you are incorrect. This book primarily describes all the people involved in the creation of the dictionary and the methods used to gather the data. A very interesting book that taught me much. Any reader should invest time in reading this book. View all 6 comments. Jun 10, Pamela rated it liked it Shelves: I would have liked to have given this a better rating, but at times the book was just so dull.
Winchester wrote another book about the making of the OED and perhaps all of his passion was put into that one.
The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary Near the end, chapter 7 Winchester explores why so many people helped out with the making of the OED when their only reward was perhaps footnotes in the dictionary. Since he wrote this I would have liked to have given this a better rating, but at times the book was just so dull. Since he wrote this book in recent times this should not have been such a surprise. How many people spend hours upon hours contributing to their favorite site, Wiki's abound for all sort of things: And these people usually don't even get a footnote, let alone contribute to the world's best authoritative book on the English language.
It seems obvious to me why people would contribute with nothing to gain, Winchester should have been able to answer his own question.
The Meaning of Everything - Wikipedia
Instead he repeated it too often. There were some interesting parts, particularity in the beginning. Enough to redeem itself to a middle rating. Tolkien worked on a small part. A few years ago I read the The Professor and the Madman: I'm sure that was by Simon Winchester too it was. This book is the whole story - the big picture of the creation of the OED, a project that was much bigger than the professor or the madman, and outlived them both.
It is a grand tale of a grand dream, conceived in an era of wide A few years ago I read the The Professor and the Madman: It is a grand tale of a grand dream, conceived in an era of wide knowledge and unlimited ambition. It reads like a tale of another time and place, because it is. We share a language with the creators of the OED, but little else, at the remove of a handful of decades and an ocean.
Lots of good stuff in this book - cameos from Tolkien, etc, uncommon words, an historic overview of the origination of the English language and the emergence of dictionaries. The narration just killed it for me though, in a way that I can't judge the book apart from the voice, and I suspect I would have liked the book book far more. I liked the Professor and the Madman better. May 17, Bruce rated it it was ok Recommends it for: But then, this is a short book.
Minor, a paranoid schizophrenic institutionalized in England is retold here as part of a chapter One. So far, so good. Then the next half of the chapter then treats the histories of others who added to the OED a bit by skiffling through a table of apathetic highlights: Why are you asking me? However, this affair, yet more fully covered in Professor , takes place about 40 years before the OED itself has been completed and some before the death of Murray.
Both works cover the trials and tribulations that attended bringing Victorian era monuments of stunning ambition and authority to existence, both outlived their principal authors Murray for the OED, John Roebling for the bridge , and had to be completed by others. But then, the bridge placed lives at stake and McCullough cared to tell us about the lives of those involved, their biographies, their times. The worst the OED ever managed was a headache and a slight squint. Possibly someone once threw a back out climbing a library ladder or suffered a series of nasty papercuts. Hardly much of an equivalent.
Perhaps that helps explain why this book is so much shorter. But I doubt it. The OED editors are hard at work on a third edition, all of which can be found online. At any rate, if the story of English compilers and language at all intrigues you, go read those better books. Let this passionless, inconsistent, and annoyingly incomplete account moulder on the shelves. Nov 04, Ian Tregillis rated it liked it. I read this in airports and airplanes, while exhausted beyond words, so my thoughts are not in order. I found this a little dry at first, but warmed up to it about halfway through.
The Oxford English Dictionary truly is an amazing achievement, and the 70 year history of its first incarnation is astonishing. This book renewed my admiration for the OED , and made me wish all the more strongly that I owned a copy. Many fascinating anecdotes to be found here. My favorite being I read this in airports and airplanes, while exhausted beyond words, so my thoughts are not in order.
My favorite being the apparently legendary etymological struggle that J. Tolkien who worked briefly as an assistant editor on the first edition OED put up when deriving the source of the surprisingly old word "walrus". Oh, to see that notebook An amusing recurring theme in this tale is how profoundly everybody underestimated the scope and length of the work required.
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The effort was really quite staggering. It was a very Victorian undertaking. Say what you will about the Victorians -- they were pretty awful in some ways -- but man, they sure liked a challenge. This book also gives an interesting overview of the history of English-language dictionaries, some of which I knew, most of which I didn't. I found this a good companion piece to Winchester's related non-fiction book, The Professor and the Madman: The story of W.
Minor is only briefly recapped here, but nevertheless the book doesn't suffer from a shortage of eccentric characters. Sep 14, Trevor rated it really liked it Shelves: In The Surgeon of Crawthorne , or The Professor and the Madman as it is more sensationally titled in the States, Winchester makes the point that the book has two protagonists.
However, any fair reading of that book would have to say that really there is only one protagonist and that is Dr Minor. The other protagonist that Winchester alludes to is James Murray — the man, more than anyone else, responsible for the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary. This book has only one protagonist — and In The Surgeon of Crawthorne , or The Professor and the Madman as it is more sensationally titled in the States, Winchester makes the point that the book has two protagonists. This book has only one protagonist — and that unquestionably is James Murray.
For about the first half of this book I thought that Winchester had decided to make some extra money by essentially re-writing his other book on the Dictionary. But after that point the book became fascinatingly interesting and a wonderful companion book to that earlier work. There are some wonderful photographs and illustrations showing the cards with quotations that came in to the scriptorium in their millions.
This dictionary, this remarkable work of love and devotion, really does make an inspiring story. And a quote to end things off: View all 3 comments. Oct 30, Annette rated it it was ok. After I told my husband that I finished this book, he asked how it was. I said "It was kind of boring. What did you expect.
Moral of the story: You can stab women and still have a big vocabulary. This is a most enjoyable book. The making of the first edition of the OED is surprisingly filled with event.
The Meaning Of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary
The gigantic task took a lifetime and survived four editors before it was finally concluded. He was followed by Fredrick Furnivall who took up the job with intense enthusiasm and then lost interest--neglecting the task to such an extent that the project was nearly cancelled. Fortunately h This is a most enjoyable book. Fortunately he supported the idea of being replaced by James Murray. Most of the rest of the book is devoted to the Herculean lexicographic labours of this remarkable man who--more than any other is responsible for the plan that has made the OED the ultimate English language dictionary.
Murray died in and his successor and good friend Harry Bradley passed away in Finally, in William Craigie and C. Onions brought the task to an end. But as the book shows, the task is never at an end. There were several supplements and a second edition. Winchester's book is anecdotal in style rather than academic. But he makes the most of all the remarkable stories that are involved in the history of this very long project, narrating in lively prose the various clashes of personalities, competing visions, and enlivening every chapter with amazing anecdotes of all kinds.
As one would expect, of all the characters--some remarkably vivid--James Murray particularly stands out. He was born in humble circumstances and his formal education ended at the age of Yet, he became the most important editor of the greatest English dictionary ever made. This book is certainly an entertaining and instructive history of a great monument of scholarship. This was fun and readable despite partly because of? I enjoyed the first couple of chapters the most, especially the parts on the history of dictionaries and lexicography in general.
The daunting logistical issues posed by the project were also fascinating — so many problems that simply don't exist any more, like "how do I organise these millions of little handwritten slips" or "how do I keep copies and keep track of all this volumi This was fun and readable despite partly because of? The daunting logistical issues posed by the project were also fascinating — so many problems that simply don't exist any more, like "how do I organise these millions of little handwritten slips" or "how do I keep copies and keep track of all this voluminous daily correspondence without going insane".
I think overall they'd have saved a lot of time by abandoning the project in favour of putting all that brainpower and hundreds of years' worth of person-hours to work on inventing the computer a bit sooner. I'd have liked to learn more about the processes involved in hunting down etymologies etc and a bit less about the quirks and habits of the huge cast of characters involved in the production of them, but I suppose that's me being a nerd on this topic and such an exchange would not actually improve the book.
A small thing that needled me enough that I can't help noting it: I was intensely annoyed by the author's snooty footnote "Even Homer nods" in reference to Murray the OED's chief editor for the majority of the project writing "less" rather than "fewer" with a count noun. C'mon dude, you spent at least a few paragraphs early on explaining why the descriptivist approach of the editorial team was the only sensible one; can you not manage to generalise this realisation enough to keep a lid on your pointless complaints about perfectly common and accepted usages like that?
Worth reading if you like words or are interested in list-making processes, for sure! I'm disturbed by the current trend of history authors focusing more on the biographies of the inviduals involved in a project rather than the ideas behind it. Have we as readers convinced them we are that voyeuristic? Is the People magazine approach to intellectual history the only thing that sells these days?
Or do hardcore fans simply become so enamored of the figures who made it all possible that they cannot resist the urge to delve into the personal? This would be understandable if an author I'm disturbed by the current trend of history authors focusing more on the biographies of the inviduals involved in a project rather than the ideas behind it.
This would be understandable if an author like Winchester decided instead to write a complete biography with all the depth and attention to character nuance that entails. The tantalizing title lured me with notions of lexis and alphabet amory, but the book generally restricted those ideas to the first chapter and epilogue. If the company I work for or any project I've helped bring to fruition were ever reason for a researcher to spit out juicy tidbits about my personal life and those of my colleagues, I would hardly consider it an honor.
Feb 11, Don rated it really liked it. I've always wondered what some of the first 'crowd-sourced' add that word to the OED please efforts were in the world. Though not completely open like Wikipedia, the OED must be one of the first due to the efforts of thousands worldwide contributors. Yet, the words of the English language were funneled through the OED editors -- but, it couldn't have been produced without the world's help. This was an enjoyable ride into the history of the Oxford English Dictionary from beginning to end.
Winch I've always wondered what some of the first 'crowd-sourced' add that word to the OED please efforts were in the world. Winchester really brings both the supreme effort and the personalities alive in the approximately 60 year journey. Both the leaders and editors fight and claw their way through it only to discovered just how immense the English language really is. But most of the accolades must be given to James Murray - who single-handedly drove the dictionary to its final form and structure.
All in all this is an interesting and quick read - well worth the time! The last word in the OED now is 'zyzzyva' compared to 'zyxt' when it was first completed in Mar 29, Troy Blackford rated it it was amazing. This is exactly the kind of thing I love. You have a grand story of real human endeavor and achievement--the inception and construction of the first Oxford English Dictionary--filtered through the lens of the very human characters involved in its construction and the outrageously difficult, outlandishly remarkable one man contributed enormous amounts from inside an insane asylum , and everything in between.
You get huge doses of history of language, of dictionaries, of England itself and larg This is exactly the kind of thing I love. You get huge doses of history of language, of dictionaries, of England itself and large smatterings of personal color I had known that J. Tolkien himself helped with part of the W-words, but more of that story is here.
All throughout, Winchester's great love of and erudition on the topic of the Oxford English Dictionary shines through like a beacon.