Loading...

A History of the «Concise Oxford Dictionary»

by Malgorzata Kaminska (Author)
Monographs 342 Pages
Series: Łódź Studies in Language, Volume 34

Summary

This book shows the evolution of the Concise Oxford Dictionary, a famous and innovative dictionary for native speakers of English. It traces changes in the dictionary from 1911 to recent times. By comparing samples from each edition, the author provides insights into the revisions of the dictionary. The analysis sheds light on the editors’ policy on various aspects of the dictionary’s structure, including definition style, vocabulary selection and sense discrimination. The study shows how the editors abandoned the telegraphic style of definitions and adapted them to the needs of the target users. As the dictionary evolved towards greater user-friendliness, it also aimed at broader vocabulary coverage.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Acknowledgements
  • Table of Contents
  • Editions of COD, in chronological order
  • List of abbreviations used in the text
  • List of tables and graphs
  • Introduction
  • 1. The aim and the structure of the book
  • 2. Distinguishing features of the original COD
  • 3. Why this dictionary?
  • 1. Methodological and Theoretical Basis
  • 1.1 Samples
  • 1.2 Size
  • 1.3 Outside matter
  • 1.4 Selection of vocabulary
  • 1.5 Arrangement and form of entries
  • 1.6 Definitions
  • 1.7 Sense discrimination and order
  • 1.8 Syntagmatic and paradigmatic information
  • 1.9 Etymology
  • 1.10 Pronunciation
  • 1.11 Usage labels
  • 1.12 Function
  • Part 1
  • 2. Origin of COD
  • The Publishers
  • New English Dictionary
  • Concise Oxford Dictionary
  • 3. Presentation of Editors
  • COD1-COD2
  • COD3
  • COD4-COD5
  • COD6-COD7
  • COD8
  • COD9
  • COD10
  • COD11
  • Summary of the chapter
  • Part 2
  • 4. Size
  • 5. Outside Matter
  • COD1
  • COD2
  • COD3
  • COD4
  • COD5
  • COD6
  • COD7
  • COD8
  • COD9
  • COD10
  • COD11
  • Summary of the chapter
  • 6. Selection of Vocabulary
  • COD1
  • COD2-COD5
  • COD6
  • COD7
  • COD8
  • COD9
  • COD10
  • COD11
  • Summary of the chapter
  • 7. Arrangement and Form of Entries
  • COD1-COD3
  • COD4-COD5
  • COD6-COD7
  • COD8
  • COD9
  • COD10
  • Summary of the chapter
  • 8. Definitions
  • COD1
  • COD2
  • COD3
  • COD4
  • COD5
  • COD6
  • COD7
  • COD8
  • COD9
  • COD10
  • COD11
  • Summary of the chapter
  • 9. Sense Discrimination and Order
  • COD1
  • COD2-COD5
  • COD6
  • COD7
  • COD8
  • COD9
  • COD10-COD11
  • Summary of the chapter
  • 10. Syntagmatic and Paradigmatic Information
  • COD1
  • COD2-COD5
  • COD6-COD7
  • COD8
  • COD9
  • COD10
  • COD11
  • Summary of the chapter
  • 11. Etymology
  • COD1
  • COD2-COD4
  • COD5
  • COD6-COD7
  • COD8
  • COD9
  • COD10
  • COD11
  • Summary of the chapter
  • 12. Pronunciation
  • COD1-COD3
  • System of notation
  • Type of pronunciation and variants
  • COD4-COD5
  • System of notation
  • Variants
  • COD6-COD7
  • System of notation
  • Type of pronunciation
  • COD8
  • System of notation
  • Type of pronunciation and variants
  • COD9
  • System of notation
  • Variants
  • COD10
  • COD11
  • Summary of the chapter
  • System of notation
  • Type of pronunciation and variants
  • 13. Usage Labels
  • COD1
  • COD2-COD5
  • COD6
  • COD7
  • COD8
  • COD9
  • COD10
  • COD11
  • Summary of the chapter
  • 14. Function
  • COD1
  • COD2-COD5
  • COD6-COD7
  • COD8
  • COD9
  • COD10
  • Summary of the chapter
  • Conclusions
  • Appendix
  • Sample A (Macrostructure)
  • Sample B (Microstructure)
  • References
  • 1. Dictionaries
  • 1.1. Editions of COD, in chronological order:
  • 1.2. Other dictionaries mentioned in the text
  • 2. Internet sources
  • 3. Other references

Editions of COD, in chronological order

List of abbreviations used in the text

List of tables and graphs

| 17 →

Introduction

1. The aim and the structure of the book

This book aims to describe the development of the Concise Oxford Dictionary (henceforth COD) throughout its history, beginning with the first edition, published in 1911, and ending with the one published in 20041. We look into successive editions, eleven in all, by studying changes in terms of the following aspects: size, outside matter, selection of vocabulary, arrangement and form of entries, definitions, sense discrimination and order, syntagmatic and paradigmatic information, etymology, pronunciation, usage labels, and function. These aspects will be discussed in detail in what follows. Based on my intuitive knowledge of the dictionary, we may put forward a hypothesis that each aspect has changed, though the direction of the changes is not clear and is to be determined in the current study.

The book consists of fourteen chapters. Chapter 1 provides the methodological and theoretical background to the study of the history of COD. It introduces and defines lexicographic terms used in the empirical part of the book, and outlines the main points according to which the analysis is carried out. The method of taking samples is explained in one of the sections of this chapter.

The following chapters are divided into two parts. Part one, which is not directly related to the internal structure of the dictionary, consists of two chapters: Chapter 2 and 3. The former shows the origin of COD, while the latter presents the editors.

Based chiefly on the analysis of specific samples, Chapters 4–14 constitute part two of the book, which covers the empirical study. Each of the chapters deals with one aspect of the dictionary. At the end of each chapter there is a summary of the main points, followed by tables and graphs, if relevant. Part two is followed by Conclusions.

In the Appendix, the reader will find samples A and B, which were studied in detail for statistical calculations. The former sample constitutes parts of the word-lists extracted from all editions under study, and the latter one covers a selection of entries from all editions. For ease of reference, a list of all editions of ← 17 | 18 → COD is presented both at the back of the book, i.e. in the References, and at its beginning, on a page preceding the Introduction.

2. Distinguishing features of the original COD

When COD was first published in 1911, it showed characteristics which were not typical of English lexicography at that time. Describing the ‘peculiarities’ of the dictionary, the editors remarked that it gave ‘a large amount of space’ to common words, used copious, ‘for so small a dictionary’, illustrative sentences, and saved space ‘by the severest economy of expression – amounting to the adoption of telegraphese – that readers can be expected to put up with’ (COD12, iii–iv). While many other dictionaries available for a general audience were ‘a blend of glossary and encyclopedia’ (McMorris, 2002, 94), COD was innovative in that it was ‘designed as a dictionary, not an encyclopedia’ (COD1, iii).

As soon as COD appeared, reviewers praised the dictionary for the characteristics that the editors mentioned themselves in the preface. One of the characteristics, which made the dictionary stand out from other lexicographic works available on the market, was extraordinary treatment of space. The book was admired as ‘a marvel of condensation, accomplished by skilful hands’ (Modern Language Notes, 1911, 264; cited in McMorris, 2002, 95) and ‘a miracle of condensed scholarship’ (New York Sun, 1911; cited in McMorris, 2002, 95).

3. Why this dictionary?

There are several reasons underlying my decision to take COD as the object of this study. Firstly, this dictionary is a significant achievement in British lexicography for the simple reason that it has been published for over a hundred years, a long period of time that testifies to the extreme popularity of COD among native speakers of English. Second, it has exerted a strong influence on other dictionaries, both mono- and bilingual. In the field of EFL lexicography, as Cowie (2002, 47) points out, COD (COD3 in particular) was extensively drawn on as a source of vocabulary and definitions for the Idiomatic and Syntactic English Dictionary (1942); the latter dictionary became better known as the Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English (1952). What might be of special interest to historians of English-Polish lexicography is the fact that COD4 (1951) was a source material for the largest dictionaries available on the Polish ← 18 | 19 → lexicographic market after 1951, such as Kościuszko Foundation Dictionary (1959), edited by Bulas and Whitfield, and Wielki Słownik Angielsko-Polski, edited by Stanisławski (1968) (Piotrowski, 1988, 337). There is every reason to believe that COD, whether in its original or one of its later editions, influenced bilingual dictionaries in other European countries. In the current book, however, we will not attempt to deal with such influences, but rather concentrate exclusively on the history and development of COD.

1 The current study does not take into account the latest edition, published in 2011, but this fact has little bearing on the overall results of the research, as the 2011 edition shows little revision, compared to the one from 2004.

2 Following a convention, I indicate subsequent editions of COD with numbers: COD1, COD2, COD3, etc.

Details

Pages
342
ISBN (PDF)
9783653043709
ISBN (ePUB)
9783653981063
ISBN (MOBI)
9783653981056
ISBN (Hardcover)
9783631652688
Language
English
Publication date
2014 (October)
Tags
Lexikographie Etymologie Wortschatz Revision
Published
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 342 pp., 16 tables, 3 graphs

Biographical notes

Malgorzata Kaminska (Author)

Małgorzata Anna Kamińska is a linguist specializing in the field of lexicography. Currently she works as a lecturer at the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Applied Sciences in Nysa (Poland), where she teaches undergraduate English courses.

Previous

Title: A History of the «Concise Oxford Dictionary»