OK so how can a dictionary be exciting? you may ask. I thought the same thing as I was about to explain to two youngsters doing their work experience here in Kensington Central Library.
Well, it is easier than you think. The Oxford English Dictionary shows you just how diverse our language is. It isn’t just a language derived from a single origin but a number of origins – Greek, Latin, French, Arabic, German, Japanese, and more… It shows each word’s history by telling of the origins of words, their first use, their reasons for meaning what they do as well as just what they mean now and other words which can be used in their stead.
I also enjoy the fact that, when you are told that you have spelt a word wrong- perhaps spelling it as it sounds- it is perhaps we ourselves who are a bit silly trying to enforce spelling, as words have developed their spelling over a great many years. Indeed, a word’s spelling is simply a way of making it understood verbally, not as the modern age suggests, which is a rule which we must follow to the letter!
You can visit and search through the Oxford English Dictionary online and look at…
- The word of the day
- History of words and when they were first used
- Weekdays named after ancient gods
- Months meaning (inaccurate) numbers and Roman emperors
- The sheer number of words – 600,000
In the library you will be signed in automatically and from outside you will just need to type in your Kensington and Chelsea library card number. Please ask a member of staff if you need any help, and we will be happy to give you a hand!