SPEARFISH | Andrey Reznikov, professor of English at Black Hills State University, will present “’The Meaning of Everything’: The Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED)” Thursday, Oct. 5 as part of the BHSU Geek Speak lecture series.
Reznikov’s lecture will discuss the fascinating process of creating the OED and how the ever-evolving publication is used today. This year marks the 160th anniversary of the beginning of the Oxford English Dictionary.
One of the most ambitious projects of the time, the OED was proposed by the Philological Society of London in 1857. The goal: document every single word, the complete history of every word, and every meaning of every word the English language from 1150 A.D. onward into one comprehensive publication.
The task of compiling millions of words, their meanings, and quotations of usage for each fell to James A. H. Murray, the editor of the Oxford University Press. Murray recruited people from various backgrounds to submit quotations and proofread the work in progress.
“Keep in mind,” Reznikov said, “everything was done by hand in those days.”
Notable contributors to the first edition of the OED were J.R.R. Tolkien (famous for writing the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy) and Dr. W.C. Minor (an American Civil war surgeon committed to an asylum for murder), among the many others who dedicated themselves to the first edition.
Reznikov is quick to point out that the OED is not a dictionary that everyone would need or use on a daily basis. He hopes people will come to appreciate the enormity of the undertaking after attending his Geek Speak lecture.
“I want people to see how amazing this achievement was -- and is today,” said Reznikov.
The future Geek Speak presentations, which are held Thursdays at 4 p.m. in Jonas Hall, room 110, are scheduled for this semester:
• Oct. 12: “Tasting Life Twice: On Life-Writing and Wellbeing” by Dr. Denice Turner, assistant professor of education
• Oct. 19: “Use of Images for Visualization and Visual Literacy in Language Class” by Dr. Du-Lu Hsiao, assistant professor of Spanish
• Oct. 26: “Something Wicked This Way Comes: The History, Myths, and Rituals of Halloween” by Dr. Courtney Huse-Wika, director of the Honors Program and associate professor of English
• Nov. 2: “Veterans Legacies in the Black Hills” by Kelly Kirk, instructor of history
• Nov. 16: “Searching for Riemann: A brief history and some recent insights into one of the most intriguing unsolved million-dollar problem in mathematics” by Dr. Parthasarathi Nag, professor of mathematics
• Nov. 30: University Honors Capstone Defenses
• Dec. 7: University Honors Capstone Defenses
To learn more about each lecture topic go to BHSU.edu/Honors.