Transcript: Katherine Barber | Oct 11, 1998

(Rhythmic string and wind music plays)

In animation, a word in pink slides by against a gray background as hands paint strokes using paintbrushes, play a piano, and touch as in a ballet performance.

The title of the show reads “Dialogue.”

The title of the episode pops up against an image of Richard Ouzounian and a guest sitting at a bar table: “Katherine Barber. Lexicographer.”

The place is small, with orange walls partially covered with posters of paintings.

Then, Richard appears facing the screen. He's in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted blond hair. He's wearing rounded glasses, a gray suit, lilac shirt, and gray checked tie.

He says WELCOME TO
DIALOGUE.
I'M RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
IF A PICTURE IS
WORTH 1,000 WORDS,
GET READY TO TAKE MANY,
MANY PICTURES OF THE LADY
YOU'RE ABOUT TO MEET.
BECAUSE TOGETHER
WITH HER STAFF,
SHE'S SPENT THE LAST FIVE
YEARS GOING THROUGH, OH,
SOME 40 MILLION WORDS
TO HELP PUT TOGETHER
THIS VOLUME:
THE CANADIAN
OXFORD DICTIONARY.

He picks up a copy of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, with a black cover featuring a red maple leaf.

He continues
WHY DO WE NEED A
CANADIAN DICTIONARY?
THAT'S JUST ONE OF THE MANY
QUESTIONS I'M ABOUT TO ASK,
BECAUSE THIS
DIALOGUE
IS
WITH KATHERINE BARBER.

Katherine is in her late thirties, with short auburn hair and bangs. She’s wearing a short-sleeved flowery gray dress.

Richard continues SO, KATHERINE, AS EDITOR
OF THE CANADIAN OXFORD
DICTIONARY, LET ME START
WITH THAT INITIAL QUESTION:
WHY WAS THERE A NEED
FOR A SPECIFICALLY
CANADIAN DICTIONARY?

Katherine says IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE
NO ONE REALLY EVER ASKS,
WHY DO AMERICANS
NEED DICTIONARIES?
WHY DO THE BRITISH
NEED DICTIONARIES?

Richard says WELL, THEY'RE RIGHT ALL THE
TIME ANYWAY, AREN'T THEY?

A caption appears on screen. It reads “Katherine Barber. Lexicographer.”

Katherine says AND I THINK IT COMES FROM A
FEELING THAT THE LANGUAGE
IS ONE AND UNIQUE AND YOU ONLY
NEED ONE DESCRIPTION OF IT.
BUT ALL DICTIONARIES,
IN FACT, ARE A REFLECTION
OF THE MINDSET OF THE
PEOPLE WHO WROTE THEM,
AND THERE ARE A
SELECTION OF WORDS BASED
ON THE NEEDS OF THE USERS
WHO ARE GOING TO USE THEM.
SO, BRITISH DICTIONARIES
REFLECT A BRITISH MINDSET,
BRITISH NEEDS; AMERICAN
DICTIONARIES LIKEWISE,
FOR THE AMERICANS.
AND NEITHER OF THOSE
DICTIONARIES REALLY SERVE
CANADIANS PROPERLY.
THEY DON'T INCLUDE THE
WORDS THAT WE USE AND
OTHER VARIETIES OF THE
LANGUAGE DON'T USE.
THEY DON'T DEFINE THEIR
WORDS FROM A CANADIAN POINT
OF VIEW, THEY DON'T TELL
US HOW CANADIANS SPELL,
THEY DON'T TELL US HOW
CANADIANS PRONOUNCE THINGS.
SO, FOR ALL OF
THOSE REASONS,
WE NEED A DICTIONARY
AS MUCH AS ANY OTHER
ENGLISH-SPEAKING VARIETY
THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.

Richard says I REMEMBER YOU WERE
ONCE QUOTED SAYING,
YOU HOPE THIS DICTIONARY
WOULD PUT AN END TO THE FACT
THAT PEOPLE THOUGHT
CANADIAN SPEECH BEGAN
AND ENDED WITH, “EH.”

Katherine says YES, THAT'S MY MISSION
IN LIFE, IN FACT,
BECAUSE EVERYONE SAYS TO ME,
IS “EH” IN THE DICTIONARY?
AND I KIND OF
GRIT MY TEETH.

Richard says I'M SURE THAT'S THE ONE
QUESTION YOU'LL GET DURING
INTERVIEWS; IT'S THE ONE
YOU'LL HATE THE MOST.
NO, GO AHEAD.

Katherine says THE THING IS, I'M ALWAYS
TEMPTED WHEN PEOPLE SAY THAT
TO SAY SOMETHING LIKE, YES,
AND SO IS AUDITOR GENERAL,
OR SOMETHING EXCITING.
WE HAVE 2,000 CANADIAN
WORDS IN HERE;
CANADIANS ARE VERY
LINGUISTICALLY INVENTIVE,
NO LESS SO THAN ANY OTHER
VARIETY OF THE LANGUAGE.
SO, WE HAVE WORDS THAT
REFLECT THE VAST VARIETY
OF CANADIAN EXPERIENCE.
AND “EH” IS SUCH A
MEANINGLESS WORD;
IT'S JUST LIKE A VERBAL
PUNCTUATION MARK.
SO, IT DOES RATHER IRRITATE
ME WHEN PEOPLE THINK
THAT'S CANADIAN ENGLISH.

Richard says ONE OF THE THINGS I NOTICE
THAT I LOVED ABOUT
THE DICTIONARY - DOESN'T IT
SOUND SO STRANGE TO SAY,
I LOVE THIS DICTIONARY?
BUT IT'S ALSO AN
AMAZINGLY DELIGHTFUL READ
AS WELL AS A
REFERENCE TOOL.
IS THAT YOU'VE MANAGED
TO CAPTURE THAT KIND OF
WONDERFUL CANADIAN
SELF-DEPRECATING
SENSE OF HUMOUR IN IT.
AND I'LL JUST TAKE ONE
ENTRY, FOR EXAMPLE,
IS THE CANADIAN TERM FOR
HOW CAN WE PUT IT...
A BEER BELLY.

Katherine says YES, MOLSON MUSCLE.

Richard says MOLSON MUSCLE.
NOW, THAT IS
UNIQUELY CANADIAN,
NOT JUST BECAUSE
IT'S MOLSON,
BUT I CAN'T PICTURE
AN AMERICAN OR A BRIT
PUTTING THAT KIND OF A
PARTICULAR SPIN ON IT.

Katherine says I DON'T KNOW, I HAVEN'T
ACTUALLY INVESTIGATED
OTHER NAMES FOR
BEER BELLIES.

Richard says IT'S USUALLY
BEER BELLY.

Katherine says STORY BEHIND THAT IS THAT I
SING IN A CHOIR AND MY CHOIR
DIRECTOR ONE DAY WAS SAYING...
WE WERE SINGING PALESTRINA
AND SHE SAID, NOW,
USE YOUR MOLSON MUSCLE!
MEANING, GIVE SOME SUPPORT
FROM THE DIAPHRAGM.
AND I WENT, MOLSON
MUSCLE, I WONDER IF
THAT'S IN THE DICTIONARY;
BETTER CHECK.
BECAUSE, OF COURSE, IT'S
A WORD THAT WE'RE ALL
VERY FAMILIAR WITH.
YES, IT'S THANKS TO MY CHOIR
DIRECTOR THAT WE HAVE
MOLSON MUSCLE IN
THE DICTIONARY.

Richard says THERE'S OTHER THINGS,
TOO; TERMINOLOGIES.
I'M AN AMERICAN, AND
WHEN I CAME TO CANADA,
PEOPLE SAID, WOULD YOU LIKE
YOUR PIZZA “ALL DRESSED?”
I SAID, DUH?
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN, AS
OPPOSED TO A NAKED PIZZA?
IN AMERICA, YOU USED TO SAY
YOU WANTED IT WITH “THE WORKS.”
BUT YOU HAVE THAT KIND OF
TERMINOLOGY IN THERE,
AND YOU HAVE A LOT OF SLY
THINGS LIKE THAT AS WELL.
DO YOU THINK THERE IS
SOMETHING PARTICULARLY
UNIQUE ABOUT THE CANADIAN
HUMOROUS USE OF WORDS?

Katherine says I DON'T KNOW
IF IT'S UNIQUE.
IN CANADA, ACTUALLY, I'VE
NEVER REALLY REFLECTED ON THAT.
WE JUST SYSTEMATICALLY WENT
THROUGH THE ALPHABET
FROM A TO Z AND LOOKED AT
WHAT WORDS WERE UNIQUE
TO CANADIAN ENGLISH,
WHAT USAGES,
WHAT SENSES OF WORDS WERE
UNIQUE TO CANADIAN ENGLISH.
SO, WE JUST KEPT ON
PLOUGHING THROUGH AND DIDN'T
SPEND MUCH TIME REFLECTING
ON GREATER REALITIES LIKE THAT.
SO, IF WE HAD EVIDENCE
FOR “ALL DRESSED,”
IN IT WENT TO
THE DICTIONARY.

Richard says THAT'S GOOD.
THERE'S ALSO SOMETHING I
FOUND VERY INTERESTING,
IS YOU'VE CHOSEN TO DO A LOT
OF BIOGRAPHICAL ENTRIES,
ESPECIALLY OF
PROMINENT CANADIANS.
IS THERE A REASON THAT
THAT DECISION WAS MADE?

Katherine says THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF
DICTIONARIES: DICTIONARIES
THAT JUST FOCUS ON LEXICAL
ITEMS AND DICTIONARIES
THAT ARE ENCYCLOPEDIC - THAT
IS, INCLUDING ENTRIES
FOR PERSONS, INDIVIDUALS,
AND PLACE NAMES.
AND IT'S JUST TWO DIFFERENT
WAYS OF PRESENTING INFORMATION,
AND I PERSONALLY, AS
A DICTIONARY USER,
HAVE ALWAYS FOUND
IT USEFUL TO HAVE
THAT ENCYCLOPEDIC
INFORMATION IN A DICTIONARY.
SO, IT HELPS WITH
UNDERSTANDING THE LANGUAGE,
SO IF SOMEONE SAYS, HE'S THE
GREATEST THING TO HAPPEN TO
CANADIAN PAINTING SINCE THE
GROUP OF SEVEN - IF YOU
DON'T KNOW WHAT THE
“GROUP OF SEVEN” IS,
YOU HAVEN'T UNDERSTOOD
THAT SENTENCE.
SO, THAT WAS A PERSONAL
PREFERENCE OF MINE,
IN TERMS OF DICTIONARIES,
AND ALSO BECAUSE THERE ARE
OTHER DICTIONARIES OUT THERE
THAT HAVE THAT INFORMATION,
SO WE THOUGHT WE
SHOULD HAVE IT AS WELL.

Richard says IT'S USEFUL BECAUSE
JUST, FOR EXAMPLE,
RIGHT ABOVE THE ENTRY
FOR MOLSON MUSCLE,
YOU DO FIND OUT WHO
MOLSON WAS AND WHERE
THE EMPIRE CAME FROM.
AND IT'S KIND OF A NEAT
LITTLE TOOL TO USE THAT WAY.

Katherine says YES, AND IT DOES GIVE
A FULLER FEELING OF
THE WHOLE BREADTH OF
CANADIAN CULTURE, ACTUALLY.

Richard says I'M CURIOUS, ONE
CANADIAN ART CELEBRITY,
WHO SHALL REMAIN
NAMELESS, SAID TO ME,
YOU'RE TALKING TO THE
WOMAN WHO DID THAT BOOK.
I'M NOT IN IT, AND
X, Y, AND Z ARE!
AND HE WAS ACTUALLY
QUITE OUTRAGED.
WHAT WAS YOUR CRITERIA
FOR PICKING PEOPLE?

Katherine says IT IS VERY
DIFFICULT, ACTUALLY,
WITH ENCYCLOPEDIC ENTRIES
TO ESTABLISH CRITERIA.
YOU TRY TO BE AS OBJECTIVE
AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN,
AND YOU LOOK AT OTHER
REFERENCE WORKS TO SEE
WHO HAS MADE IT INTO
THOSE REFERENCE WORKS.
AND YOU CROSS-CHECK THOSE
AGAINST INDEXES
OF CANADIAN HISTORY
BOOKS AND SO ON.
INEVITABLY, PEOPLE
ARE GOING TO SAY,
THIS PERSON'S IN AND THIS
OTHER PERSONS ISN'T IN.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO WITH
A DICTIONARY IS YOU SAY,
WE'RE GOING TO
HAVE X MANY.
IN OUR CASE, WE WERE
LOOKING AT 800 TO 1,000.
THEN YOU TRY AND SAY, WHO
ARE THE TOP 1,000 CANADIANS?
AND THEN YOU
HAVE THINGS LIKE,
YOU HAVE TO PUT ALL THE
PRIME MINISTERS IN,
ALL THE GOVERNORS
GENERAL.
WE HAD ALL OF THE PROVINCIAL
PREMIERS WHO HAD BEEN
IN OFFICE FOR LONGER
THAN FIVE YEARS -
CATEGORIES LIKE THAT.
IT'S TRUE, AT A CERTAIN
POINT, YOU SAY,
IF WE'RE GOING TO
ENTER THIS PERSON,
WE'RE GOING TO ENTER
10 OTHER PEOPLE,
AND THEN WE'RE GOING
TO RUN OVER OUR TOTAL.
INEVITABLY, PEOPLE ARE
GOING TO FIND FAULT
WITH OUR SELECTION.

Richard says I'LL SAY IT
WASN'T PERSONAL.
YOU JUST SAID SOMETHING
WHICH BRANDS YOU
AS A LEXICOGRAPHER.
WITHOUT EVEN A
BEAT OF HESITATION,
YOU SAID “GOVERNORS GENERAL.”
INSTEAD OF “GOVERNOR
GENERALS,” WHICH, OF COURSE,
MOST OF US PLEBS OUT
HERE WOULD HAVE DONE.
WHICH LEADS ME TO
THE REAL QUESTION,
WHICH IS, WHAT'S A
NICE GIRL LIKE YOU
DOING IN A BOOK
LIKE THIS?
WHAT MAKES ONE WANT
TO BE A LEXICOGRAPHER?

Katherine says INTERESTINGLY, WHEN I
WAS A TEENAGER,
I THOUGHT, OOH,
DICTIONARIES!
I USED TO LOVE DICTIONARIES,
I USED TO READ FOWLER.
IT WAS A BIT ODD.

Richard says YOU WENT RIGHT
BY NANCY DREW.

Katherine says YES, I DIDN'T READ
ANY NANCY DREW,
I JUST READ FOWLER.
THE THING WAS I LOVED
DICTIONARIES, I LOVED WORDS.
I USED TO THINK,
THIS WOULD BE FUN,
TO WRITE SOMETHING
LIKE THIS.
BUT I DIDN'T REALLY REALIZE
THAT ANYONE ACTUALLY DID.
MOST PEOPLE TEND TO THINK
OF DICTIONARIES AS BEING
SOMEHOW JUST THERE, THAT
THEY'RE THE EMBODIMENT
OF THE TRUTH ABOUT
THE LANGUAGE.
AND THEY NEVER STOP TO THINK
THAT ACTUALLY SOMEONE
HAS TO WRITE THESE THINGS,
AND EACH DICTIONARY IS,
TO A CERTAIN EXTENT,
SOMEONE'S INTERPRETATION
OF THE LANGUAGE.
SO, I DIDN'T REALLY THINK
ABOUT IT VERY MUCH,
AND OBVIOUSLY GUIDANCE
COUNSELLORS IN HIGH SCHOOL
DON'T SAY, HAVE YOU THOUGHT
ABOUT BEING A LEXICOGRAPHER?
SO, I JUST MULLED
ALONG LIKE THAT.
AND WHEN I WAS
AT UNIVERSITY,
I WAS STUDYING FRENCH
LITERATURE, IN FACT;
WASN'T STUDYING
ENGLISH.
AND I WAS INVOLVED IN A
NUMBER OF PROJECTS THAT
WERE LEXICALLY RELATED,
AND I LIKED STUDYING
PHILOLOGY AND THINGS.
SO, I WAS ALWAYS COMING
BACK TO THIS OBSESSION
WITH VOCABULARY IN
ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.
THEN, EVENTUALLY, THERE
WAS A BILINGUAL DICTIONARY
PROJECT THAT WENT UNDERWAY
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA,
WHERE I WAS STUDYING,
AND THEY HIRED ME TO BE
THEIR PRINCIPLE REVISER
ON THAT PROJECT,
AND THAT'S HOW I BECAME A
FULL-TIME LEXICOGRAPHER.

Richard says HAVING SPENT TIME TEACHING
FRENCH AND WORKING
ON BILINGUAL DICTIONARIES
AND THINGS LIKE THAT,
DO YOU FIND THAT THE FACT
THAT WE ARE TWO CULTURAL
NATIONS, AND WE HAVE
THE TWO SOLITUDES,
WHEN IT COMES
DOWN TO ETYMOLOGY,
ARE WE REALLY
TWO SOLITUDES?
DO THE FRANCOPHONE SIDE
OF OUR LANGUAGE INFORM
THE ANGLOPHONE SIDE
AND VICE VERSA,
OR DO THEY REALLY
EXIST SEPARATELY?

Katherine says IT'S ABSOLUTELY TRUE THAT
FRENCH HAS INFLUENCED
ENGLISH IN CANADA.
IT HAS BEEN STATED THAT IT
DOESN'T, BUT, IN FACT, IT DOES.
WE HAVE SO MANY WORDS
BORROWED FROM FRENCH IN
CANADIAN ENGLISH, THINGS
THAT WE BORROWED LONG,
LONG AGO, SUCH AS VOYAGEUR
AND TOQUE AND THINKS LIKE THAT.
WORDS THAT WE NEED TO
DESIGNATE WHEN WE'RE TALKING
ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE
ANCIEN REGIME IN NEW FRANCE,
TALKING ABOUT SEIGNEURIES
AND ALL THAT.
SO, THAT'S THE
HISTORICAL STUFF,
AND THEN MORE
RECENTLY, OF COURSE,
WE HAVE WORDS LIKE
SOVEREIGNIST AND PEQUISTE
AND BLOQUISTE AND
ALL OF THOSE THINGS.
AND IN QUEBEC, OBVIOUSLY,
THERE'S AN EVEN STRONGER
INFLUENCE OF
FRENCH, SO THEY,
INSTEAD OF GOING TO
THEIR CORNER STORE,
GO TO THE DEPANNEUR,
WHICH IS A STRAIGHT
BORROWING FROM FRENCH.
SO, YES, FRENCH HAS
DEFINITELY HAD AN INFLUENCE
ON CANADIAN ENGLISH
AND VICE VERSA.

Richard says WE KNOW IT GOES THE OTHER
WAY BECAUSE THERE WERE
ALL KINDS OF GREAT DEBATES,
EVEN IN FRANCE, ABOUT,
WERE WE TO ALLOW LE WEEKEND
IN AND LA HAMBURGER
AND ALL OF THESE
OTHER THINGS.
BUT IN THAT CASE,
IT'S USUALLY MORE OF
A STRAIGHT TRANSLITERATION.
SO, IT DOES WORK WELL;
THAT'S THE ONE AREA
WE SEEM TO HAVE COOPERATION,
IS LINGUISTICALLY.

Katherine says YES, AND ONE OF MY
FAVOURITE EXAMPLES IN
THE DICTIONARY, ACTUALLY,
IS THE WORD YOGOURT.
NOW, YOGOURT HAS UMPTY-DUM
DIFFERENT SPELLINGS
THROUGHOUT THE WORLD;
YOU CAN GET “Y-O-G-H-U-R-T,”
AND “J-O-G-H-U-R-T,” AND ALL
SORTS OF STRANGE THINGS.
BUT NOWHERE ELSE,
OTHER THAN CANADA,
DO YOU COME ACROSS THE
SPELLING “Y-O-G-O-U-R-T, .”
WHICH IS WHAT YOU FIND ON
THE LITTLE TUBS OF YOGOURT
THAT YOU BUY IN
THE GROCERY STORE.
AND THE GREAT THING ABOUT
THAT SPELLING IS THAT
IT PERMITS YOU TO PUT THE
WORD ON THE LITTLE TUBS
OF YOGOURT JUST ONCE BECAUSE
IT'S THE SAME IN ENGLISH
AND IN FRENCH.
THIS IS ANOTHER CASE
WHERE CANADIAN FRENCH
DIFFERS FROM
CONTINENTAL FRENCH.
IN FRANCE, THEY CALL
THE STUFF “YAOURT, .”
BUT HERE THEY CALL
IT “YOGOURT.”
SO, HERE WE HAVE THIS
PLACE WHERE WE'VE MET -
IN YOGOURT!

Richard says BILL 101'S TO GIVE
CREDIT WITH IT.
YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT
THE YOGOURT AS AN
AMUSING INSTANCE, BUT
I THINK OF THE...
I DON'T WANT TO SAY THE
TYRANNY - I'LL SAY IT,
THE TYRANNY OF BILL 101
HAS LED TO SOME OTHER
MORE COMPLICATED THINGS.
LIKE OGILVY'S CAN'T BE
CALLED OGILVY'S ANYMORE,
IT JUST HAS TO BE OGILVY.
HAVE YOU FOUND THAT THIS
FRENCH-ENGLISH TENSION
HAS CAUSED OTHER THINGS TO
HAPPEN IN THE LANGUAGE?

Katherine says AS A DICTIONARY, WE'RE
REALLY INTERESTED MORE
IN THE ACTUAL LEXICON THAN
IN GRAMMAR AND THINGS
OF THE SORT THAT YOU
WERE MENTIONING.
SO, WE WEREN'T REALLY
INVESTIGATING ALONG THOSE
LINES; WE'RE REALLY JUST
MORE INTERESTED IN CASES
WHERE WE'VE BORROWED A
FRENCH WORD OR ADAPTED
A FRENCH WORD, SO
WHATEVER THE CASE MAY BE.
SO, I'M SURE THERE ARE
INSTANCES LIKE THAT,
BUT WE WEREN'T
LOOKING INTO IT...

Richard says IT'LL BE ROOTED IN BY
THE NEXT EDITION, RIGHT?
WHAT ABOUT FROM REGION TO
REGION OF THE COUNTRY?
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH
THOSE DIFFERENCES?

Katherine says WE WERE DETERMINED WITH
THIS DICTIONARY TO MAKE SURE
THAT WE COVERED REGIONAL
VARIETY WITHIN CANADA.
FOR SOME TIME, PEOPLE HAVE
CONSIDERED THAT THERE
ISN'T MUCH VARIETY IN
CANADIAN ENGLISH.
AND I GREW UP IN MANITOBA SO
I WAS CONVINCED THAT THIS
WAS NOT TRUE, THAT, IN FACT,
THERE WAS MORE REGIONAL
VARIETY THAT PEOPLE HAD
GIVEN CANADIANS CREDIT FOR.
NOW, OBVIOUSLY, EVERYONE
KNOWS THAT NEWFOUNDLAND
HAS ITS OWN VARIETY OF
ENGLISH, SO THAT WAS PRETTY
WELL TAKEN CARE OF; THERE'S
A WONDERFUL DICTIONARY
OF NEWFOUNDLAND ENGLISH.
BUT THE BASIS OF THIS
DICTIONARY WAS A
VAST READING PROGRAM,
AND WE SET OUT,
WE STARTED OUT BY
READING AS MUCH STUFF
AS WE COULD GET
OUR HANDS ON.
SO LONG AS IT WAS
CANADIAN, WE READ IT.
WE READ EVERY KIND
OF GENRE IMAGINABLE,
WE READ ALL SORTS
OF SUBJECT MATTER,
AND WE MADE SURE THAT WE
COVERED ALL THE REGIONS.
SO, WE READ NOVELS BY JACK
HODGINS FROM THE WEST COAST,
WE READ SANDRA BIRDSELL, AND
SO ON, FROM THE PRAIRIES,
AS WELL AS LOTS OF THINGS
LIKE LOGGING MAGAZINES
AND REALLY EXCITING
STUFF LIKE THAT.
WE WANTED TO MAKE SURE
THAT WE WERE COVERING
THE VOCABULARY OF ALL THE
REGIONS, AND SO WE DID, IN FACT.
WE WERE QUITE HAPPY WITH
THE REGIONAL COVERAGE
IN THIS DICTIONARY THAT
WE CAN SAY, YES,
WE CAN HAVE WORDS
FROM SASKATCHEWAN.
MY FAVOURITE WORD FROM
SASKATCHEWAN IS THE FACT
THAT THEY USE THE WORD
“BUNNY HUG” TO MEAN
A HOODED SWEATSHIRT.

Richard says A BUNNY HUG IS A HOODED
SWEATSHIRT, OKAY.

Katherine says THE FIRST TIME I HEARD
THAT, I SAID, NO, NO, NO,
YOU'RE PULLING MY
LEG; BUT, IN FACT,
IT TURNS OUT TO BE TRUE.
WE REALLY DID COVER THE
COUNTRY AND MADE SURE
THAT NO REGION
WAS LEFT OUT.

Richard says AGAIN, I GUESS I'M
LIKE MANY CANADIANS;
I'M WILLING TO CONCEDE THAT
THERE IS A RICH VEIN
OF LANGUAGE IN THE
MARITIMES IN NEWFOUNDLAND.
THE FIRST TIME I CAME
OUT, I WAS TOLD I HAD
A DAUGHTER WHO WAS
“SOME PRETTY,” I WENT,
THIS IS A WHOLE DIFFERENT
USE OF WORDS THAT
I'D NEVER HEARD BEFORE.
BUT I DON'T BELIEVE THAT
THERE ARE ONTARIO WORDS
AND B.C. WORDS -
ARE THERE?

Katherine says THERE ARE, INDEED.
WHEN I MOVED TO
TORONTO TO WORK ON
THIS DICTIONARY, I HAD
BEEN LIVING IN OTTAWA.
AND HERE ON YONGE STREET,
THE FIRST DAY I WAS HERE,
I WAS WALKING DOWN
TO CATCH THE SUBWAY,
AND I SAW A PARKETTE.
I HAD NEVER SEEN A PARKETTE
IN MY LIFE BEFORE.
IN FACT, IN OTTAWA
WHERE I LIVED,
THERE WAS SOMETHING
THAT, IN TORONTO,
WE WOULD CALL A PARKETTE,
BUT IT WASN'T CALLED
A PARKETTE IN OTTAWA.
SO, WE LOOKED INTO THAT AND
WE DISCOVERED THAT PARKETTES
GO AS FAR SOUTH AS
WINDSOR AND AS FAR EAST
AS BELLEVILLE, MAYBE,
BUT NOT BEYOND THERE.
SO, THERE'S DEFINITELY
WORDS LIKE THAT THAT
ARE ONLY USED IN
SOUTHERN ONTARIO.
AND IT'S TRUE; AS I SAID,
I GREW UP IN MANITOBA,
I GREW UP THINKING THAT
EVERYONE CALLED A ROUND,
SUGAR-COATED, JAM-FILLED
DONUT A JAMBUSTER.
IT'S A PERFECT NAME FOR THE
THING - UNTIL I USED THAT WORD
IN TORONTO AND PEOPLE LOOKED AT
ME AS IF I'D LOST MY MIND.

Richard says YOU HIT ON SOMETHING,
BECAUSE THAT'S ONE OF THE
THINGS CALVIN TRILLIN
ALWAYS MAINTAINED,
THAT WHAT YOU CALL YOUR
BREAKFAST SNACK DETERMINES
WHERE YOU ARE IN
NORTH AMERICA.
AND HE WAS ARGUING ALL
AROUND IN THE STATES
AND WHERE CAN YOU
GET A BEAR CLAW,
WHERE CAN YOU GET A CRULLER,
AND WHERE CAN YOU GET A DONUT.
AND YOU'VE FOUND THIS IS
TRUE IN CANADA AS WELL?

Katherine says DONUTS, I TELL YOU,
AT A CERTAIN POINT,
WE THOUGHT WE WERE GOING TO
BECOME THE OXFORD COMPANION
TO CANADIAN DONUTS.

Richard says LET ME TAKE A SECOND,
TAKE ME THROUGH THAT.
IT'S A JAMBUSTER
IN MANITOBA.

Katherine says IT'S A JAMBUSTER
IN MANITOBA.
IN SASKATCHEWAN AND
ALBERTA, IT'S A BISMARCK.
HOWEVER, A BISMARCK IN
MANITOBA IS NOT A JAM-FILLED
DONUT, IT'S A CREAM-FILLED
DONUT WITH A CHOCOLATE GLAZE.
AND THEN WHEN YOU
GET OVER THE ROCKIES,
IT'S A JELLY DONUT, AS
IT IN EASTERN CANADA,
EXCEPT WHEN YOU
GET TO NOVA SCOTIA.
THERE SEEMS TO BE A POCKET
OF BURLINGTON BUNS
DOWN THERE, FOR
JAM-FILLED DONUTS.
SO, YES, THE DONUTS
TURNED OUT TO BE QUITE
AN UNDERTAKING FOR US.

Richard says IS THAT ONE OF THE
MAJOR TOUCHSTONES,
OR DID YOU FIND ANOTHER
EXPRESSION OR EXPRESSIONS
THAT ALSO GET DEFINED
AS LITMUS PAPER
ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY?

Katherine says ANOTHER ONE WAS THE WORD
FOR UNDERWEAR, GOTCH,
OR GOTCHIES, OR GITCH.
AND IT SEEMS THAT AT
ABOUT LLOYDMINSTER,
FOR SOME REASON
UNKNOWN TO US,
THEY START PUTTING
AN N IN THIS WORD
AND IT BECOMES GONCH OR
GINCH - LESS FREQUENTLY,
BUT GONCH DEFINITELY.
SO, WE HAVE EVIDENCE
FROM W.O. MITCHELL
USING THE WORD GONCH,
AND OTHER SOURCES FROM
WEST ALBERTA
AND WESTWARD.
BUT THAT SEEMS TO BE
ANOTHER REGIONAL DIVIDE.

Richard says THAT'S AMAZING.
I'M JUST HARKENING BACK TO
WHAT YOU SAID A FEW MINUTES AGO,
ABOUT THE PARKETTE.
AND YOU SAY, IT WORKS
UNTIL ABOUT BURLINGTON,
AND THEN IT STOPS.
WHO DECIDES THAT?
DOES SOMEONE PUT UP A WALL
AT BURLINGTON AND SAY,
NO PARKETTES PAST HERE?

Katherine says IT'S A BIT OF A MYSTERY.
IN FACT, THERE'S THE
GREAT DIVIDE BETWEEN
DENVER SANDWICHES AND
WESTERN SANDWICHES.
AND THEY'RE CALLED DENVER
SANDWICHES OUT WEST,
AND WESTERN SANDWICHES
IN THE EAST.
SOMEONE WROTE ME A LETTER
ONCE WITH THE THEORY
THAT THE LINE FELL BETWEEN
MANITOUWADGE AND HORNEPAYNE,
WHICH ARE VERY SMALL
COMMUNITIES NORTH OF LAKE
SUPERIOR, BECAUSE HE HAD
HAD THEM IN BOTH PLACES.
AND IN ONE IT WAS DENVER AND IN
THE OTHER IT WAS A WESTERN.
IT'S REALLY A MYSTERY WHY
WHAT WE CALL THE ISOGLOSS
FALLS WHERE IT DOES.
AND WITH SOME WORDS, IF
THEY'RE DERIVED FROM, SAY,
A SCOTTISH WORD, YOU'RE
GOING TO FIND THEM
IN AREAS OF SCOTTISH
SETTLEMENTS.
ANOTHER INTERESTING
CANADIAN WORD IS THE WORD
STORM-STAYED, WHICH
MEANS SNOWBOUND.
AND IT'S USED A LOT IN
THE MARITIMES WHERE
IT HAPPENS A LOT,
IN FACT.
AND SO, IT HAS BEEN
RECOGNIZED AS BEING
A MARITIMES' WORD.
BUT WE'VE ALSO FOUND
IT IN SOUTHERN ONTARIO,
SPECIFICALLY
SOUTHWESTERN ONTARIO,
WHERE THERE'S A LOT OF
SCOTTISH SETTLEMENT.
AND WE'VE ALSO HAD VARYING
REPORTS OF IT CROPPING UP
IN THE PRAIRIES, BUT
PRESUMABLY ONLY IN AREAS
OF SCOTTISH
SETTLEMENT THERE.
SO, SOMETIMES YOU CAN
EXPLAIN WHY THE ISOGLOSS
FALLS WHERE IT DOES.
BUT IN OTHER CASES,
WE DON'T KNOW.
LIKE, I DON'T KNOW WHY
PARKETTES STOP IN BELLEVILLE.

Richard says IT'S FUNNY, YOU ALSO
MENTIONED A DENVER SANDWICH.
I GREW UP IN NEW YORK, AND
WHEN I SUDDENLY WENT OUT
OF NEW YORK AND DISCOVERED
THERE WERE THINGS CALLED
NEW YORK STEAKS, I
WENT, EXCUSE ME?
I'VE NEVER HEARD
OF THIS BEFORE.
WHAT DO PEOPLE IN
DENVER CALL A DENVER?
I GUESS THEY CALL
IT A WESTERN.

Katherine says I DON'T KNOW, ACTUALLY;
IT'S A REALLY
INTERESTING QUESTION.
BUT THAT OFTEN HAPPENS
WITH WORDS LIKE THAT.
SO, OBVIOUSLY, WE
CALLED FRENCH BREAD,
THEY DON'T CALL PAIN
FRANCAIS IN FRANCE.
AND WHAT AMERICANS
CALL CANADIAN BACON
WE DON'T CALL
CANADIAN BACON.
SO, THAT HAPPENS A LOT
WITH THOSE FOOD TERMS.

Richard says SUCH A HUGE
PROCESS, THIS WAS.
I GATHER IT TOOK,
WHAT, FIVE YEARS?

Katherine says FIVE YEARS, FOR SIX OF US.

Richard says SIX OF YOU
WORKING ON IT.
I KIND OF FEEL IT
MUST BE LIKE SISYPHUS;
YOU SIT THERE AND LOOK AT
THIS ROCK AT THE BEGINNING.
WHERE DO YOU
ACTUALLY START?
CAN YOU THINK OF LIKE
THE FIRST THING YOU DID?

Katherine says ACTUALLY, I PERSONALLY,
WHEN I STARTED THIS PROJECT,
WE DIDN'T ACTUALLY HAVE A
DICTIONARY DEPARTMENT
AT OXFORD
UNIVERSITY PRESS.
SO, WHEN I WAS HIRED,
I HAD TO SET UP
THE DICTIONARY DEPARTMENT.
I HAD TO BUY DESKS
AND THINGS LIKE THAT;
THAT WAS ONE OF THE
FIRST THINGS THAT I DID,
AND THEN HIRE
LEXICOGRAPHERS.
WHEN WE ACTUALLY STARTED
EDITING THE DICTIONARY,
WE STARTED AT A AND JUST
KEPT WORKING UNTIL WE GOT TO Z.
YOU CAN START IN THE MIDDLE;
YOU CAN CHOOSE TO START
AT THE LETTER M,
IF YOU WANT TO.
BUT I KIND OF THINK THERE'S
THIS PSYCHOLOGICAL FEELING
OF COMPLETION WHEN YOU GET
TO THE END OF Z AND IT
REALLY IS THE END
OF THE DICTIONARY.
BUT IT'S TRUE, IT IS A
REALLY MONUMENTAL TASK,
AND IT IS PSYCHOLOGICALLY
VERY DIFFICULT FOR SOME
PEOPLE TO DEAL WITH THAT, IN
THAT THEY'RE IN A AND THEY
KEEP THINKING ABOUT THE
HUGE AMOUNT OF SPACE
BETWEEN A AND Z.
AND I ALWAYS SAID TO
THE LEXICOGRAPHERS,
YOU CAN'T DO THAT BECAUSE
YOU'LL JUST GO MAD.
YOU REALLY WILL GO MAD,
SO, YOU JUST HAVE TO SAY
TO YOURSELF, OKAY, BY
TWO WEEKS FROM NOW,
I'M GOING TO BE AT
THE WORD ABLATIVE,
OR WHATEVER THE
CASE MAY BE.
AND THEN YOU PAT YOURSELF
ON THE BACK WHEN YOU GET
TO ABLATIVE, AND THEN
YOU START OVER AGAIN.
YOU GIVE YOURSELF THESE
MINI-DEADLINES BECAUSE
IT CAN BE OVERWHELMING
OTHERWISE, CERTAINLY.

Richard says DOES IT TAKE A PARTICULAR
MINDSET TO BE A LEXICOGRAPHER,
OR ARE THERE AS MANY
LEXICOGRAPHERS...
I HAVE A FRIEND WHO'S
A COMPUTER PROGRAMMER,
AND HE SAYS, I'M SICK
OF PEOPLE SAYING,
YOU COMPUTER
PROGRAMMER TYPES.
HE SAID, WE ARE
ALL DIFFERENT.
WHAT ABOUT YOU
LEXICOGRAPHER TYPES?

Katherine says OBVIOUSLY, WE ARE
ALL INDIVIDUALS,
BUT THERE ARE CERTAIN
THINGS THAT MAKE
FOR GOOD LEXICOGRAPHERS.
YOU HAVE TO HAVE A VERY
ANALYTICAL MIND BECAUSE
YOU'RE LOOKING AT HUGE
AMOUNTS OF EVIDENCE OF
THE LANGUAGE AND YOU HAVE TO
SORT IT OUT INTO CATEGORIES
AND SAY, THESE THREE
EXAMPLES ARE SENSE ONE,
AND THESE FIVE ARE
SENSE THREE, AND SO ON.
AND THEN YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE
TO SYNTHESIZE IT AGAIN,
SO YOU HAVE TO LIKE IMPOSING
ORDER ON THE LANGUAGE.
AND I THINK IT'S QUITE
IRONIC WITH ME, IN FACT,
BECAUSE I'M A TERRIBLY
UNTIDY PERSON,
BUT I LOVE IMPOSING
ORDER ON THE LANGUAGE.
SO, YOU HAVE TO BE A VERY
GOOD LATERAL THINKER
TO BE A GOOD
LEXICOGRAPHER.
AND YOU HAVE TO
BE A GENERALIST,
BECAUSE YOU'RE WORKING
IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER,
SO YOU CAN HOP FROM
NUCLEAR PHYSICS TO BALLET
TO BASKETBALL TO WHATEVER IN
THE SPACE OF FIVE MINUTES.

Richard says ON ANY ONE PAGE OF THIS,
YOU'LL GO FROM HISTORY TO
SCIENCE TO GEOGRAPHY TO BEER
TO SHOWBIZ TO EVERYTHING
IN ONE PAGE OF
THE DICTIONARY.

Katherine says SO, YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE
TO INTEREST YOURSELF IN
ANYTHING, FOR LONG ENOUGH TO
WRITE A DEFINITION ABOUT IT.
SO, THAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT,
AND YOU ALSO HAVE TO BE VERY
HUMBLE ABOUT YOUR
KNOWLEDGE OF THE LANGUAGE,
IN THAT YOU CANNOT SAY,
I'VE NEVER USED THIS WORD,
I'VE NEVER HEARD THIS WORD,
SO I'M NOT GOING TO PUT
IT IN THE DICTIONARY.
YOU HAVE TO REALIZE THAT THE
LANGUAGE IS JUST SO VAST
THAT THERE'S SO MANY THINGS
THAT YOU DON'T KNOW,
THAT YOU HAVE TO COME TO IT
WITH A CERTAIN HUMILITY.

Richard says WHAT I'VE FOUND REFRESHING
ABOUT IT IS THAT THERE
IS SOME WONDERFUL
SLANG DICTIONARIES
THAT EXIST IN THE STATES, IN
PARTICULAR, AND DICTIONARIES
OF COMMON USAGE.
THIS PUTS WHAT WE WOULD
CONSIDER SLANG EXPRESSIONS
RIGHT NEXT TO EIGHT-SYLLABLE
WORDS THAT NO ONE USES
IN EVERYDAY CONVERSATION.
WAS THAT A
DELIBERATE CHOICE?

Katherine says ACTUALLY, MOST GENERAL
DICTIONARIES HAVE DONE
THIS FOR SOME TIME NOW.
THEY INCLUDE FORMAL
LANGUAGE, NEUTRAL LANGUAGE,
INFORMAL, AND SLANG.
IT'S JUST THAT
THEY'RE LABELLED.
IN FACT, YES, MANY PEOPLE DO
ASK ME: DO YOU PUT SLANG
IN THE DICTIONARY?
AND I THINK PERHAPS THAT
DATES FROM WHEN THEY WERE
IN GRADE THREE OR SOMETHING AND
THE DICTIONARIES THAT THEY
USED AT THAT POINT WOULD
PROBABLY NOT HAVE
HAD SLANG IN THEM.

Richard says YOU TRY TO LOOK
UP THE DIRTY WORDS.

They both chuckle.

Katherine says BUT WE PUT EVERYTHING
IN OUR DICTIONARY, YES,
EVERYTHING GOES.

Richard says I'M CURIOUS, WHEN
YOU RANK WORDS, LIKE,
WHICH MEANING IS
GOING TO COME FIRST?
I'LL GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE;
I LOOKED UP “MOLE.”
NOW, MAYBE IT'S BECAUSE
I'M AN URBAN PERSON,
BUT I THINK THE PRIMARY
USAGE OF MOLE IS THE LITTLE
DARK, RAISED
SPOT ON THE SKIN.
THE PRIMARY USAGE LISTED IN
THE DICTIONARY IS THE ANIMAL.
WHO DECIDES THAT?
WHO SAYS IT'S GOING TO
BE THE ANIMAL RATHER
THAN THE SKIN BLOT?

Katherine says WE LOOK AT OUR
EVIDENCE, AS I SAID.
AS YOU MENTIONED, WE LOOKED
AT 40 MILLION WORDS OF TEXT.
SO, WE WOULD HAVE HAD,
FOR MOLE, PROBABLY, OH,
I WOULD IMAGINE,
BETWEEN 500 AND 1,000
EXAMPLES FOR
THE WORD MOLE.
AND WE WOULD LOOK AT ALL
OF THOSE EXAMPLES AND SEE
WHICH SENSE WAS
THE MOST FREQUENT.
NOW, I IMAGINE THAT MOLE,
THE SKIN BLEMISH AND MOLE,
THE ANIMAL, ARE ACTUALLY TWO
DIFFERENT HOMONYMS OF MOLE -
THAT THEY'RE PROBABLY NOT
DERIVED FROM THE SAME SOURCE.
IN CASES LIKE THAT, WE PUT
THEM AS MOLE 1 AND MOLE 2.

Richard says I THINK YOU HAVE AROUND
FIVE MOLES, DOWN TO MOLE,
THE MEXICAN TURKEY DISH.

Katherine says IN THAT CASE, WHEN IT'S NOT
JUST A QUESTION OF MEANINGS
BUT ACTUAL DIFFERENT WORDS
THAT HAPPEN TO LOOK
THE SAME, THEN WE WOULD TEND
TO PUT THEM HISTORICALLY.
SO, THAT'S HOW
THAT WOULD HAPPEN.

Richard says WERE THERE DISAGREEMENTS,
OR DID YOU ALWAYS DEFER
TO THE SHEER WEIGHT
OF EVIDENCE?
THERE ARE 14,000 ANIMALS
AND 12,000 SKIN BLOTS,
SO IT'S THE ANIMAL?

Katherine says YES.
ACTUALLY, I COULD SAY THAT
EVERYONE DEFERRED TO ME,
BECAUSE I WAS THE
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF,
BUT THAT'S NOT
TRUE, IN FACT.

Richard says BUT THERE WERE
ARGUMENTS.

Katherine says NO, NOT REALLY, BECAUSE
IT'S NOT A SUBJECTIVE
THING, LEXICOGRAPHY.
YOU'RE LOOKING AT THE
EVIDENCE, AND, AS YOU SAY,
IF THE EVIDENCE
TELLS YOU ONE THING,
YOU DON'T HAVE MUCH OF
AN ARGUMENT IN FAVOUR
OF SAYING, I THINK IT
SHOULD BE THE OTHER WAY.
WELL, THAT'S NOT THE WAY
IT IS IN THE LANGUAGE,
AND WE'RE THERE TO
DESCRIBE THE LANGUAGE.

Richard says HOW DID YOU SETTLE THE
GREAT CANADIAN-BRITISH
ENGLISH SPELLING DEBATES:
THEATRE, COLOUR, PROGRAMME?
ALL THOSE WORDS.
IS IT THEATER WITH AN E-R?
OR IS IT THEATRE WITH AN R-E?
OR IS THERE A
U IN COLOUR?

Katherine says AGAIN, WE LOOKED TO THE
EVIDENCE TO SEE WHAT
CANADIANS WERE DOING.
WITH THE O-U-R/O-R AND
THE R-E/E-R THING,
THE EVIDENCE IS
OVERWHELMINGLY IN FAVOUR
OF O-U-R- AND R-E.
HOWEVER, ESPECIALLY
WITH O-U-R,
THERE'S A STRONG
MINORITY USING O-R.
SO, WE PUT BOTH OF THESE
IN; WE DON'T SAY,
ONE IS THE CORRECT CANADIAN
FORM AND THE OTHER IS WRONG.
WE JUST SAY, BOTH OF THESE
ARE VALID IN CANADIAN ENGLISH.
ONE IS MORE FREQUENT
THAN THE OTHER,
AND IT'S UP TO YOU TO CHOOSE
WHICH ONE YOU WANT TO USE.

Richard says IS THERE A MATTER OF
A CONSISTENCY, LIKE,
IF YOU FAVOURED THEATRE WITH
AN R-E, ARE YOU KIND OF
STYLISTICALLY OBLIGED
THEN TO DO COLOUR WITH A U?

Katherine says NO, NOT
NECESSARILY, NO.
BECAUSE THERE ARE
CASES WHERE C-O-L-O-U-R,
FOR INSTANCE, IS
A BRITISH SPELLING,
BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN
THAT WE USE BRITISH
SPELLINGS OVERWHELMINGLY.
FOR INSTANCE, IF YOU
TAKE THE TIRE ON A CAR,
THE BRITISH SPELL IT T-Y-R-E,
BUT WE DON'T GO SHOPPING
AT CANADIAN T-Y-R-E, DO WE?

[laughing]

Richard says NOT BLOODY LIKELY.

Katherine says THAT'S A CASE WHERE WE'VE
JUST OPTED OVERWHELMINGLY
IN FAVOUR OF THE
AMERICAN SPELLING.
SO, FOR EVERY WORD,
WE HAD TO SEE
WHAT CANADIANS
WERE DOING.

Richard says SPEAKING OF WHAT
CANADIANS ARE DOING,
WE HEAR NOWADAYS THAT
LANGUAGE HAS BECOME DEBASED,
THAT PEOPLE DON'T
CARE ABOUT THE WORDS.
WE HAVE A WHOLE GENERATION
OF KIDS WHO SAY, WELL, LIKE,
I WENT, LIKE, DOWN, LIKE, TO
SEE, LIKE, THE X-FILES, LIKE.
WHAT DO YOU ANSWER TO
THIS, AS A LEXICOGRAPHER?
WHY DID YOU SPEND FIVE
YEARS OF YOUR LIFE DOING
A DICTIONARY, WHERE THE NEW
GENERATION THINKS “LIKE.”
IS THE ONLY WORD?

Katherine says ACTUALLY, THAT'S A
CRITICISM THAT I THINK
PEOPLE HAVE BEEN MAKING
ABOUT THE LANGUAGE PROBABLY
EVER SINCE ANCIENT ROME.

Richard says IT'S NOT AS GOOD AS
IT WAS WITH CHAUCER!

Katherine says THAT'S RIGHT.
THAT'S JUST AN
ONGOING...
IT'S ONE OF THOSE
THINGS THAT PEOPLE
GET AGITATED ABOUT.
THE LANGUAGE IS
CHANGING, CLEARLY,
AND ACTUALLY WE DO HAVE
THAT SENSE OF “LIKE” IN
THE DICTIONARY, AS SORT OF
A VERBAL PUNCTUATION MARK.
BUT I REALLY DON'T THINK WE
CAN SAY THAT IT'S GOING TO
HELL IN A HAND BASKET;
THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE
VERY LINGUISTICALLY
COMPETENT OUT THERE.
SO, WHEN YOU LOOK AT 40
MILLION WORDS OF TEXT,
YOU DISCOVER THAT, YES,
THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO AREN'T
VERY ARTICULATE, BUT
THERE ARE PEOPLE
WHO ARE VERY
ARTICULATE.
THERE'S A WHOLE RANGE
OF THE LANGUAGE,
AND I'M SURE IT'S ALWAYS
BEEN THAT WAY AND
ALWAYS WILL BE THAT WAY.

Richard says LANGUAGE MAY BE LESS
ERUDITE THAN IT WAS
A GENERATION OR TWO AGO, BUT
IS IT BECAUSE OF THIS
HUGE POOL OF RIVERS
COMING TOGETHER?
DO YOU FEEL IT IS
GETTING RICHER?

Katherine says ENGLISH, DEFINITELY,
HAS ALWAYS BEEN
A VERY RICH LANGUAGE.
IT'S BEEN VERY WELCOMING TO
WORDS FROM OTHER LANGUAGES.
AND YEAH, THE WORD STOCK
JUST SEEMS TO BE GROWING,
SEEMS TO KEEP
GROWING CONTINUALLY.
SO, IT'S HARD TO
QUANTIFY BECAUSE, SAY,
IN THE RENAISSANCE, HUGE
NUMBERS OF WORDS CAME
INTO ENGLISH FROM LATIN
AND GREEK AT THAT POINT.
IT'S TRUE, IF YOU LOOK AT
19TH CENTURY TEXTS COMPARED
TO 20TH CENTURY TEXTS,
THERE ARE MANY MORE
POLYSYLLABIC WORDS IN
19TH CENTURY TEXTS.
BUT THAT DOESN'T
NECESSARILY MAKE IT BETTER.
MANY PEOPLE WHO WRITE ABOUT
PLAIN ENGLISH - FOWLER WAS
ONE OF THEM - WERE VERY MUCH
IN FAVOUR OF USING VERY SHORT,
PLAIN WORDS DERIVED
FROM ANGLO-SAXON,
AS OPPOSED TO THESE
LATINATE WORDS.
SO, I DON'T THINK THE FACT
THAT WE'VE FALLEN AWAY FROM
THIS POLYSYLLABIC TYPE OF
VOCABULARY IS AN INDICATION
THAT THE LANGUAGE IS
DETERIORATING AT ALL.

Richard says WHAT ABOUT YOU?
FIVE YEARS ON
THE CANADIAN
OXFORD DICTIONARY...
EXCEPT FOR A PUBLICITY TOUR AND
A LITTLE REST - WHAT COMES NEXT?

Katherine says WE PLAN TO DO A WHOLE SERIES
OF CANADIAN DICTIONARIES.
AS I SAID, WE SET UP THE
DICTIONARY DEPARTMENT AND
IT'S A PERMANENT
FIXTURE NOW AT OXFORD
UNIVERSITY PRESS CANADA.
THIS IS A VERY
LARGE DICTIONARY,
SO OBVIOUSLY IT DOESN'T
SUIT EVERYONE'S PURPOSES
AT ALL TIMES, SO WE PLAN
TO DO A SERIES OF SMALLER
DICTIONARIES AND VARIOUS
SPINOFF-TYPE DICTIONARIES.
AND INEVITABLY, WE'LL HAVE
TO DO A SECOND EDITION
OF THIS ONE.

Richard says SON OF CANADIAN
OXFORD DICTIONARIES.

Katherine says ABSOLUTELY.

Richard says YOU JUST INTRIGUED ME WHEN
YOU SAY A SPINOFF DICTIONARY.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN?

Katherine says AS I SAY, IT COULD BE
A SMALLER DICTIONARY,
IT COULD BE A DICTIONARY
ADAPTED FOR SCHOOL USE,
ADAPTED FOR CHILDREN.
IT COULD BE A
SPELLING DICTIONARY,
WHERE YOU JUST HAVE
THE WORDS LISTED
WITHOUT THE
DEFINITIONS.
YOU COULD HAVE
DICTIONARY THESAURUSES,
YOU COULD HAVE DICTIONARIES
WITH COLOUR HEADWORDS.
I DON'T THINK WE'VE GOT
QUITE INTO SCRATCH-AND-SNIFF
DICTIONARIES YET, BUT THE
POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS.

Richard says IF THERE ARE, I WOULD LIKE
YOU TO BE IN CHARGE OF THEM.
YOU'VE DONE A WONDERFUL
JOB WITH THIS,
AND THANK YOU FOR
TALKING TO ME.

Katherine says THANK YOU, IT'S
BEEN A PLEASURE.

Richard says KATHERINE BARBER,
THANKS.

He faces the screen and says
FOR
DIALOGUE, I'M
RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
GOODBYE FOR NOW.

Music plays as the end slate reads “Special thanks to Grano. Dialogue.”

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 1998, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Katherine Barber