Re: The plot thickens - re: "fraudster"

Subject: Re: The plot thickens - re: "fraudster"
From: Geoff Lane <geoff -at- gjctech -dot- co -dot- uk>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2009 09:11:06 +0000

On Tuesday, February 10, 2009, Ned Bedinger wrote;

> I think the OED (see "The Professor and the Madman" by Simon
> Winchester), like the Webster New International, originated on a
> non-descriptivist path. I wouldn't be surprised if the OED has stuck
> more to that mission while the W3 branched onto the newer path. I think
> the OED's etymologies and documentation of first known instances where
> the word appeared in print make it the most devoutly interesting English
> dictionary, but OED cannot be both descriptively exhaustive while
> maintaining their impeccable credentials. I'd love to be proved wrong,
> but am not surprised when I can't find something like fraudster there.

> And if that is not the reason why the OED does not list fraudster, then
> I guess it must be because the OED editors might not yet have seen a
> credible source for that word. Send them a postcard with a citation and
> we'll see if it shows up in the next edition.

The OED is dynamic and AFAICT the full version lists all words in
common, written usage. For example, "Cybersquatting" is a recent
addition. For "ain't", my 1994 electronic version of the Pocket Oxford
Dictionary has:
ain't contr. colloq. 1 am, is, or are not. 2 have or has not.
AIUI, that's the sort of thing you say reduced the respect that
Webster's enjoyed. So OED seem intent to document the living language
and include erstwhile slang and jargon that gains common usage.

As I wrote earlier, I would not be in the least surprised if
"fraudster" made it to the OED at the next publication. It's certainly
appeared in the press a few times over the last few years. However, I
understand that a definition only makes it to the OED when it has a
significant place in the English (as opposed to American) Language. To
quote the OED themselves, "English is full of outliers or borderline
cases, which sparkle for a moment and then disappear, leaving no
appreciable effect on the language." So perhaps they're just waiting
for "fraudster" to become established.

FWIW, the BBC had a series (called "Balderdash and Piffle") in which
the OED asked the public for help to trace the history of well-known
words and phrases and that gave a good insight into the workings of
the OED. is the BBC
web page for the programme. It's worth perusing if you're interested
in etymology.



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Please move off-topic discussions to the Chat list, at:

RE: I had say it because I was afraid no one else would.: From: Michael West
RE: I had say it because I was afraid no one else would.: From: McLauchlan, Kevin
The plot thickens - re: "fraudster": From: Geoff Lane
Re: The plot thickens - re: "fraudster": From: Ned Bedinger
Re: The plot thickens - re: "fraudster": From: Geoff Lane
Re: The plot thickens - re: "fraudster": From: Ned Bedinger

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