Working on a Dictionary


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According to the speaker, why is the first dictionary edition outdated?
Many of the comments are not politically correct.
The language is rather old fashioned.
It focuses on establishment figures.
There are too many Victorian figures.
What activities does the speaker do as part of his work?
He writes about well-known people.
He determines whether people should be included in the dictionary.
He researches the details of obscure people.
He revises the entries from the first edition.
According to the speaker, what is the purpose of the dictionary?
To be a supplement to an encyclopedia
To save scholars the time of reading full biographies
To serve as a reference of previously influential people
To present biographies of less well-known people
What is the mail purpose of the speaker's talk?
To show the value of biographies
To describe his graduate program
To explain the importance of research
To talk about how he does his work
Um, as well as, um, doing the teaching.
Um, I've also, particularly in the last two years, um, I've been working for, Oxford University Press.
Um, for a project which is called the Dictionary of National Biography.
Um, first edition of this dictionary was published in the 1890s.
It's about twenty volumes long.
Um, and it's been added to by various, sort of volumes of missing persons and, um, by decade volumes.
Every decade this century for people who've died during that decade.
Um, the original idea with it was to have, a sort of reference tool for people who wanted to look up somebody who was a a bishop or a writer.
But not necessarily so famous that, um, a, a whole biography of them had been published.
Um, so each entry is maybe a page long.
Um, can be in, in the case of you know prime minister or, uh, you know, a, a famous writer, it could be considerably longer.
Um, so there is this, this dictionary published in the 1890s and, um, obviously it's beginning to get a bit dated, in the, so_ sort of main sections that, um, perhaps you know a hundred years of, of scholarship and publications has, um, added to what we know.
Um, there is also the, the secondary point that, um, it was produced in the eighteen nineties.
It doesn't have very many women in.
It doesn't have very many people who are, you know, let's say what you might call working class leaders, or, um,you know, who are away from the general sort of, generals, bishops, um, politicians, themes of the earlier one.
So, it's been decided to do a whole, um, a whole new edition.
A second edition.
So, this, um, second edition is, um, in preparation obviously, um, uh, the, uh, it- it's difficult to, um, sort of organise all these contributions.
Most of them come from, you know_ they are sent out to people who are experts in that particular field.
Obviously, there's some, some historian is, is the expert on, seventh-century church.
He gets a huge wad of seventh century bishops.
Um, what i- happens a lot of the time is there's people that, um, there's nobody who's particularly an expert in them.
Um, and in my position this is- well, these ones sort of come to me on the_ on a contract basis.
So i_ i, you know, somebody comes to me and says, you know, can you, um, write on, you know, this seventeenth century, um, hagiographer.
So, a sort of a person who wrote, um, histories of saints.
So I say yes I think I can manage a hagiographer.
And, you know off I go, into the library and try and dig out what I can on them, and, and write my entry.
Um, 've done all sorts of entries.
I've, I've done from, uh, fifteenth century bishop to, um, a twentieth century doctor.
Um, mostly I've been working on the what's the, uh, called the early modern period.
The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Um, that's just because it's happened in, in the last couple of years.
Since I've finished my degree that's been the section they've been working on.
So, um, I've been having a go at those, um.
It- it's interesting i- it it can_ it has a certain appeal in, that sort of somebody who's totally obscure, um, living in the sixteenth century, was perhaps a famous person in their day, um, but now is, is, is extremely unregarded.
And i- it can be fascinating to go off and see what you can dig up about them.
And, um, there's a sort of, um, fascination in that but i- it- it can be immensely dull, immensely tedious.
Um unrewarding, um, but, you know, there's worse things I could be doing