Wed, 23 Oct 2019

How Indian English is being documented

Posted on Monday, June 18, 2018

Peter Giliver share that Oxford English Dictionary enters its 90th year, its lexicographers continue to incorporate distinctive features of Indian English

 “This year, whatever else it may be, is the Year of the Dictionary.” So wrote Charles Onions, the fourth Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary (and one of only two still alive), on April 19, in an article in the London Times celebrating the completion of the first edition of the Dictionary, whose final section or ‘fascicle’ was published on that day, bringing to a triumphant conclusion the labour of thousands of people—working all over the English-speaking world—over nearly three-quarters of a century.  

The English language, in all its richness, was now recorded and described in unprecedented detail. And today, as we celebrate the 90th anniversary of the completion of that first edition, the OED continues to provide unequalled documentation of the words that make up the English language as it has been spoken, written, printed, and transmitted over the last millennium. 

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) may have been published by a British publishing house — Oxford University Press— but it had always aimed to be a dictionary with a truly international outlook. Its inclusion of English vocabulary from all parts of the world was evident from its very first fascicle, published in 1884 (when the project had already been in progress for nearly three decades): indeed, one of the very first words in that first fascicle was a word with Indian connections: aalthe Indian mulberry tree, and the reddish dye obtained from it. James Murray, the Dictionary’s first Editor, took a particular interest in the English of India, and worked closely with Henry Yule, compiler of the pioneering Anglo-Indian glossary Hobson-Jobson (1886), even before that book was published, in an effort to ensure good coverage of that variety of English.  

A succession of advisers with specialist knowledge of the English of India kept Murray and his successors informed about the language of the subcontinent, so that fully-researched entries for words like babu and crore and galangal and juggernaut could take their place alongside entries for words from Britain, America, Africa, Australia, and elsewhere. 

The process of monitoring the English of India has continued over the 90 years that have elapsed since 1928. The OED lexicographers of today continue to seek out the distinctive features of Indian English so that they can be documented alongside all of the language’s other varieties. In the last year alone, dozens of words from the region, from achcha to jugaad, from gully cricket to chakka jam, have been added to the OED’s website. And we are always eager to learn of more!—anyone, in India or elsewhere, can send us information about new developments in the language, so that we can continue to work towards the ideal of making the Oxford English Dictionary the best possible dictionary of all the world’s English. (The author is an associate editor, Oxford English Dictionary) 

Advertisement

Most read articles

How to get best scores in IELTS exam

The International English Language Testing System or IELTS is an English language proficiency test.

Plastic, the preferred Children's Word of the Year

Plastic has been revealed as Children’s Word of the Year by Oxford University Press for BBC Radio 2

How do I prepare for getting into a top university?

Fool-proof plan to secure admission in your desired college abroad

How to choose the right course and university in India or abroad

Planning for higher studies in India or abroad. In either case, one must judiciously pick the right

Back| Next

Most searched tags

HealthCare Journalism Photography Engineering Civil services exams Mass Media Management SCM Acting as career Bschool ranking MBA ranking Online Distance MBA Fashion and Design CAT

Related

Taiwanese youth ambassadors promote cultural exchanges between Indian and Taiwan ...

The exchange programme is a part of the Taiwanese government’s efforts to promote public diplomacy besides helping Taiwa ...

How will Brexit change the future of international students ...

Prashant Rajpal writes about the impact of Brexit on students inspiring to study in the UK ...

How to choose the right course and university in India or abroad ...

Planning for higher studies in India or abroad. In either case, one must judiciously pick the right course, reports Shiv ...

Standardised testing can be a route to securing overseas admissions ...

International college admissions is a highly competitive scenario, and doing well on a test of repute can secure access ...

Back| Next