Oxford English Dictionary Forever Digital?

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Will the venerable Oxford English Dictionary (OED) become a thing of the past? No, but it is likely  to become incorporeal.

A spokesperson for Oxford University Press told the Oxford Times, in response to a story in the Telegraph contending the next edition of the OED will be all-digital, that “No decision has yet been made on the format of the third edition. It’s likely to be more than a decade before the full edition is published and a decision on format will be taken at that point. Lexicographers are currently preparing the third edition of the OED, which is 28 per cent complete. No final completion date is yet confirmed.”

The Telegraph had quoted Nigel Portwood, CEO of Oxford University Press, as saying, “The print dictionary market is just disappearing, it is falling away by tens of percent a year.” When asked if he thought the third edition would be printed, he replied, “I don’t think so.”

Simon Winchester, author of The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary, told the Telegraph that “Until six months ago I was clinging to the idea that printed books would likely last forever. Since the arrival of the iPad I am now wholly convinced otherwise. The printed book is about to vanish at extraordinary speed. I have two complete OEDs, but never consult them. I use the online OED five or six times daily. The same with many of my reference books, and soon with most. Books are about to vanish; reading is about to expand as a pastime; these are inescapable realities.”

Published on: Sep 26, 2010

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