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The World English Dictionary
Microsoft and British publishing house are launching what describe as
the first world English dictionary, a work which seeks not
only to encompass British or American English, but the way the language is spoken around the world.
The Encarta World English Dictionary,
the first time that Microsoft have given the brand name to book, has taken three years compile from the work of 250
lexicographers around the world.
It seeks to bring together the
disparate elements English, from the language of
Shakespeare to modern day street slang.
The book and the CD-Rom to be
published in September draw together the English spoken 10 different countries by one in five of the world's
The dictionary includes 400,000
entries and more three million words.
The editors say what marks it as different to previous
dictionaries that users will be able to look a word and
then delve deeper into regional significance of that word
and related to it around the world.
Americans have already been told that
phrases including "yadda, yadda, yadda" (blah, blah,
blah) and "whasup?" (what's up?) have made to the
And British-English speakers may be
surprised to learn while they may expect a spaceman to
"zap" them with a laser gun, in Malaysia it refers photocopying.
Editors have to contend with the
crossover of vocabulary and grammatical style one group
of English users to .
Rabid consumption of TV shows from both America and Australia
mean that the average British-English speaker absorbs a lot English vocabulary from both these sources.
American grammar and word order, example, have a habit of sneaking into everyday use the UK.
And although the vernacular trade the United States is rather one-sided, the UK's No1 linguistic export
is currently the word "shag" - as seen the latest
Austin Powers spoof spy movie.
Dr Whitnail, senior editor the
dictionary, says usage of the word followed the popularity of Britpop music and the hit film Four
Weddings and a Funeral, than wildlife documentaries on
The 250 lexicographers from North
America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Caribbean
and the UK drew on own databases and word banks to come with the most frequently used words, terms and phrases in
The publishers that this worldwide system has ensured that
they have covered all the different nuances of many words, instance, the definition of the word "ignorant"
which in the Caribbean means "aggressively quarrelsome"
Dictionary building developed over
the past couple of decades a highly technological art.
There are two approaches - one the
traditional reporting system, where volunteers watch forms
of the written word and alert editors any new words or
However, in the late 1970s
lexicographers began "hoovering up" great swathes of
text including everything travel brochures to technical
manuals, novels and newspapers.
Every single word is stored a
corpus, explained the Oxford English Dictionary's Hugh Bernard
- the OED's corpus contains 100 million words - and bespoke
software is to highlight frequently used words, new words
and patterns of usage.
Of those words, 10% are sourced from
spoken language, typically sending volunteers off record
hours of everyday conversation.
These recordings analysed and the
data stored part of the corpus of words.
The advent of the internet provided another great store of words for dictionary builders
even the onerous task of scanning in sheets of text.
Indeed, Microsoft says that without
the Internet, the dictionary would been possible as the
lexicographers, none of whom were initially told what they
were working on, linked to each via the internet.
Some new words included in
and New Zealand): Used euphemistically describe an article
for sale which second hand.
Toenadering (South Africa) The process
getting closer or rapprochement between
(HongKong): The social practice of going to tea house, the
equivalent of going to a pub or bar.
Used facetiously express astonishment, disbelief or
Quick facts about the
More 375 million people
speak English as a first language.
About the same number have it a second language.
80% of information stored in
the world's computers is English.
According to Microsoft almost
85% of Internet home pages in English.
More than 1 billion people believed to be learning English.