Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Review: Reading the OED by Ammon Shea

Today in January Magazine’s art & culture section, Diane Leach reviews Reading the OED by Ammon Shea. Says Leach:
I planned to begin by writing that Ammon Shea’s Reading the OED is THE book for word lovers. I ran to look up the word for word lovers (lexiphiles? vocabularians?) but immediately ran into what I always called “the dictionary problem.” That is, if you don’t know the word, or know it but cannot spell it, you’re out of luck. Thanks to Ammon Shea, I now know the technical term for my the dictionary problem is onomonomatia: vexation at having difficulty in finding the right word. If you are true wordarian, or whatever, there is the OED online, which will solve this problem for you via its search engine, provided you are willing to subscribe. Or you may follow Ammon Shea’s example. Wordarian to end all wordarians, Shea read the Oxford English Dictionary cover to cover, the way others might take on Swann’s Way. Caveat Emptor: The Oxford English Dictionary runs 21,730 pages, requiring 20 volumes. The set weighs 137 pounds. Start making shelf space, and working with free weights, now.
The full review is here.

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Anonymous rip said...

Thanks for this review. Having worked closely with the O.E.D. for a couple of years, I think I would enjoy Shea's report.
What surprised me is that the other report by a cover-to-cover reader isn't mentioned in Diane Leach's review: A. J. Jacobs' "The Know-It-All" describes what it is like to read the "Encyclopedia Britannica" from cover to cover.
I suppose we should now watch out for a German book about reading all of the multi-volume "Deutsches Wörterbuch" by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm ...

Friday, August 29, 2008 at 4:33:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...bedevilled by onomatomania (vexation at having difficulty in finding the right word"

onomatomania is the obession with wanting to repeat certain words, not the "vexation at blah, blah..."

That was the Times, too. Poor show.

Monday, October 27, 2008 at 5:37:00 AM PDT  

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