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LRDG: The Unseen Editor: The Role of the Public in Dictionary Making

Date: 24 January 2012 Time: 1 - 2 pm

Venue: C89, County South

Maggie Scott, University of Salfordon:

Dictionaries are often viewed as providing authoritative and definitive accounts of language, with lexicographers characterised as 'guardians' of the variety in which they specialise. This point of view raises a number of ontological questions, particularly because it obscures the active and passive influence of everyday people in the creation of these resources. Many large-scale dictionaries could not have been undertaken without the help of the general public as readers and contributors, and dictionary archives are filled with correspondence from readers regarding all manner of lexicographical data. While, traditionally, the name of one or two editors will appear on the cover of a published dictionary, such works are perhaps more accurately described as collective products of entire cultures and nations. With the advent of online dictionaries that invite comments from the public, and collaborative ventures such as the Urban Dictionary and Wordnik, aspects of this wider relationship between language 'authorities' and language users are becoming more transparent. This talk will examine the role of the general public in the lexicography of Scots and English, with particular reference to the Dictionary of the Scots Language and the Oxford English Dictionary.

Event website:


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Associated staff: David Barton

Organising departments and research centres: Lancaster Literacy Research Centre, Linguistics and English Language

Keywords: Lexicography, Literacies, Public participation


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
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