language change and slang Live English

Open Dictionary reaches 1000th entry

lifelogging (noun)

the practice of digitally recording everything you do all the time, for example by wearing a camera that takes photographs every few seconds, keeping all emails etc.

For the past seven years, Bell has been conducting an audacious experiment in “lifelogging”–creating a near-total digital record of his experience.

(Submitted from the UK)

Macmillan’s Open Dictionary, which welcomes contributions from users of English throughout the world, has just reached its thousandth entry – and it’s lifelogging. Many dictionaries have “new words” features, but the Open Dictionary is special because it’s written by you – the people visiting our website – not by our team of lexicographers. Anyone can send in a new entry: all you have to do is fill in a simple form and within a few days it will appear in the Open Dictionary. We check new entries to make sure that they’re not in the dictionary already and that there is independent evidence of their use. But apart from that, we don’t interfere.

Getting to this number is a really impressive achievement. The main dictionary has just over 50,000 entries, but most of these are words that have been around for hundreds of years. The Open Dictionary has only been going since 2009 and – thanks to our contributors – we’ve already clocked up 1000 words from all over the world. This is a valuable new resource which complements the work we do ourselves. It means that, between our own lexicographers and the Open Dictionary, Macmillan can keep abreast of language change throughout the English-speaking world.

One benefit of this open submission policy is that users of English can send in entries from anywhere in the world, broadening the dictionary’s coverage of English as it is used across the globe. Recent entries have come from Canada, India, Vietnam, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the US and UK. One of my favourites is a new (to me) use of the modal can, submitted from Malaysia:

used in Malaysian English to say that something is possible or acceptable

“Can I have one fried noodles please?”  

A usage like this would almost certainly elude a lexicographer who hadn’t lived in the region, and would be very hard to pick up from a corpus, where it would be overwhelmed by other uses. Its appearance in the Open Dictionary is a clear example of the benefits of crowdsourcing. So thank you to everyone who has contributed so far, and keep them coming.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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