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The language of...

paperback books

Paperback writer

As the publication date approached for the paperback version of my history of the Oxford English Dictionary – now available from all good booksellers! – I found myself, perhaps inevitably…

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A Christmassy lexicon

Christmas can seem less like a Christian festival than a celebration of shopping. ‘Has capitalism devoured Christmas?’ asked one British newspaper in 2015, while another, the previous year, promised an…

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The knotty story of Halloween

Halloween is an increasingly contentious occasion. Devotees claim that celebrating it is liberating and romantic — an opportunity to dress up and make merry. Yet critics complain that the festival…

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‘Kaffir’

On looking at the OED’s revised entry for Kaffir, originally a noun but later also developing adjectival uses, perhaps the most striking aspect of the picture that emerges is the…

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Shakespeare in the OED

The works of Shakespeare (1564–1616) are more widely quoted in OED than those of any other author, and they pose questions for lexicographers and bibliographers concerning date and location. Treatment…

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