Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The second session

Jonathon Green is one of the world's experts in Anglophone slang. His last book, the Chambers Slang Dictionary, was published in 2008. His major work, the multi-volume dicionary of slang 'on historical principles' is scheduled to appear in 2010. Entitled Green's Dictionary of Slang (On Historical Principles) it offers 125,000 slang words and phrases from across the English-speaking world. It draws on a database of around 575,000 citations, and covers the development of slang since the early 16th century. An online version will follow.

My talk is essentially about the making of that book, but in its topics, on the making of any slang dictionary. I deal with the role of a slang lexicographer, how I see myself and what it is that I do, and with some of the aspects of slang lexicography - etymologies, dating, making a head word list, defining. I aim to show that slang lexicography is like all lexicography but nonetheless challenges the dictionary-maker with certain problems with which the OED, for instance, does not have to concern itself. Above all, I try to show why, despite the general disdain and distrust that slang attracts, it is a legitimate part of the English language, as important as any other.

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