Words to the Fore

Few books have had more deleterious, and frequently ludicrous, effect upon the language than Roget’s Thesaurus in the hands of less than competent writers. And yet, when used judiciously and intelligently, few books can boast equivalent beneficence.

In the hands of an accomplished wordsmith, a thesaurus can be a useful tool, a worthy adjunct to the craft.

In contrast to the useful tool of the average generic thesaurus, the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary represents an entire foundry. Almost 50 years in the making, the Historical Thesaurus contains nearly every word in the English language from the time of Beowulf to the present, “some 920,000 words and expressions in all,” and is the first of its kind to be created for any language.

In the Spring 2010 Wilson Quarterly, Sarah L. Courteau offers a concise review of this new masterwork in “A Word By Any Other Name.”

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Published in: on June 12, 2010 at 6:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

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