14th July 2007

Had meant to post about these last week - after Wednesday, when I heard them. But it's Saturday, feeling like a Sunday, and I'm in the Cotswolds chilling out and with time to sit and type. How did the week end up feeling so full?

Last Wednesday, anyway. It was a leaving do at work - someone I've said hi to in the corridor and had some professional connection with and maybe even played bridge with - an OUP old-timer, in short, though not a close hanging-out-with friend. That will truly be the end times for me as a real OUP old timer, when I find I'm going to retirement dos for people I regularly have lunch or after-work drinks with...

Shaggy dog storyCollapse )

The second was a rather shorter story, about the early days of dictionary making when she started heading up the department. You may think it rather late to be moving to electronic data capture for dictionary entries, but it seems she was something of a pioneer in that area as far as management was concerned, and she contracted a small database outfit to provide the software. They were very much a shoe-string operation, though, and many bugs were spotted, with the normal result that as one was fixed, another one was generated.

So they thought up the idea of making an entry that had all the possible complications that had been causing them problems, and tested all the new releases against that headword. That was the made-up word scrudge, defined as a 'small bent roofing nail', which duly appeared in the OALD 4th edition in between scrub and scruff. And what's more, I was even able to find a link to it today, proving it's taken on a life of its own...