[Others] Oxford English Dictionary Collection 2009-2010

Posted by download in Software on 21-10-2010


Oxford English Dictionary Collection 2009-2010 | 5.31 GB

This update marks the end of an era for the OED Online. After forty-three regular quarterly updates, the OED Online is soon to get a new look, with a new design and important new functionality.
The editors have been contributing to the development process, and things are looking good at present for the relaunch. Watch out for more information over the next couple of months...

But back to the current update. We're moving towards the end of the letter R, and the most significant of the twelve hundred or so entries revised and updated in this release (rod to rotness) include:

rod, rodent, rodeo, roe, roentgen, rogation, rogue, roil, role, roll, roller, roller skate, rollick, rolling, roll-out, roll-over, roly-poly, Roman, Roman Catholic, romance, Romanesque, Romanian, Romanist, Romano-, Romansh, romantic, romanticize, Romany, Romeo, romp, rondeau, rondo, rood, roof, rooftop, rook, rookery, rookie, room, roomy, roost, rooster, root, rootsy, rope, ropy, Rorschach, rosary, rose, rosebud, rosemary, rosette, rosewood, roster, rostrum, rosy, rot, rotary, rotate, rotation, rote, rotifer, rotisserie.

We worked on roding (included in this release) for the Supplement to the OED back in the seventies. The roding is ‘the performance by a male woodcock of a regular display flight at dusk and dawn’. I remember thinking I was glad there were still words like that around, and revising the entry has allowed us to bring it (and the associated verb and noun rode) right up to date.

Woodcocks are mentioned in more OED definitions than one might imagine (there are twenty-four instances). Another of our words, rogue, illustrates different issues. The most important new fact about the word rogue (as far as its treatment in the OED is concerned) is that it can now be documented from the late Middle English period (Caxton, 1489: in a translation of Christine de Pisan), rather than from the Early Modern period. Previously, the earliest reference in the OED dated from 1561, a time when the apparent prevalence of bands of rogues and vagabonds in Britain was the subject of great concern to the national and local authorities. But wandering rogues and vagabonds were a long-standing problem, viewed by some as originally a continental malaise going back well into the fifteenth century. And so it is not entirely surprising to find late Middle English documentation for the word.

One of the largest set of entries in the current release is the roll group, following hard on the heels of the rock words in the previous release. The verb roll has 187 senses in its revised form, dating from the Middle English period (around 1325, of a vessel swaying or rocking on the sea) right up to 1991, with the recent American rap-inspired meaning ‘to act or behave (in a certain way)’ first recorded in MC Hammer and Felton Pilate's song ‘This is the way we roll’. In all, 130 of the senses in the entry for the verb roll (i.e. 69.5%) have been provided with earlier attestations as a result of reading (books) and searching (databases) on the part of editors and contributors. This is one of the highest rates we have recorded to date.

This new material has its effect on the structure of the entry. In OED1, roll opens in revolving and rotating mode, and the senses are ordered to illustrate this. After reviewing the evidence for OED3 we start the entry in a way which slightly undercuts (I think correctly) the bold Victorian certainty of rolling. The first senses recorded in English are in the senses of ‘swaying’ and ‘wearing down, smoothing’, before the all-powerful revolving sense takes over. The dating is not particularly significant at this distance in time, but it's a useful reminder that semantic evolution is not necessarily as straightforward as we might imagine it to be in retrospect.

There are numerous other significant terms in this range. One which is more recent that roll, but perhaps older than many people think, is rookie (probably a shortening of recruit). In 1909, when the instalment covering this range of the dictionary was first published, OED1 left us tantalizingly wanting more. The tiny entry for rooky simply read ‘slang. A raw recruit.’ and provided a single quotation (from Kipling's Many Inventions, 1893) as its documentary evidence for the term. For the OED Supplement of 1933, this was expanded by the addition of two later quotations, and a further meaning: ‘a beginner at base-ball’.

This is clearly a word that has pricked the consciences of lexicographers of the past century. The Supplement to the OED of 1982 (vol. 3) moved the entry from the spelling rooky to rookie, and added a one-year antedating (1892, again from Kipling: Barrack Room Ballads), and a further fifteen illustrative examples, mainly from the 20th century. It handled all meanings (an army recruit, a police recruit, a novice on a sports team) as shades of the basic meaning ‘a raw recruit’. The Supplement then added a further paragraph of ten quotations showing the word in adjectival use.

The result of all this supplementation is that the entry is awash with helpful additions, but lacks some of its original focus. In revising it, today's editors had plenty of scope for reviewing the content and structure of the entry. As revised, the noun (of course in the principal form rookie) has two major sub-meanings: recruits in a profession (the army or police, etc.), and recruits on a sports team. Until several weeks before this range was signed off for publication, our earliest evidence for the word came from the magazine London Society for 1883 (predating Kipling). But as the boom came down on the entry, a substantial antedating from Colburn's United Services Magazine (1868) arrived, and that currently stands as the first reference to rookie that has been discovered. It was a relatively new term in English when the OED first noted it in 1909. One hundred years later its rookie status has been consolidated into a regular entry in the revised OED.

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