English - Historical first

21st August 2009 at 01:00

After 45 years' painstaking work by the English Language department of Glasgow University, the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary is to be published this autumn.

The project, instigated by Michael Samuels (pictured) in 1964 and led since his retirement by Christian Kay, is the culmination of hundreds of thousands of hours' work collecting data, originally on paper slips and latterly on computer, by hundreds of research assistants, postgraduate students, university staff and volunteers.

The Historical Thesaurus will become the first produced for any language in the world, containing almost every word in English from Old English to the present day. Its impact will reach far beyond the study of language, offering fresh perspectives to scholars in many other fields including anthropology, history and culture.

The completed work contains nearly 800,000 meanings, organised into more than 236,000 categories and sub-categories and collected together in two substantial volumes.


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