20 Nov 2023

Meeting the contributors of the Oxford English Dictionary

From Afternoons, 3:10 pm on 20 November 2023

They are the original "word nerds", volunteers around the world including New Zealand who would trace the meaning of words across time and describe how people were actually using them. Three thousand people, including a Kiwi fraudster, a few murders and one cannibal, sent in words and their meanings to be including in the very first Oxford English Dictionary.  Linguist, lexicographer, and Oxford professor Sarah Ogilvie discovered the names of the contributors in a small black book tied with a cream ribbon in the basement of the Oxford University Press. She spent 8 years tracking down the stories behind the people for her new book, "The Dictionary People: The Unsung Heroes Who Created the Oxford English Dictionary".

The Dictionary People book cover

The Dictionary People book cover Photo: supplied