On Tuesday 11th June Year 5 (as part of their Theme on Communication) had a visit from Mr. John Simpson, who is the retired editor of the Oxford English dictionary. He also happens to be the Grandfather of Evie and Laura Precious. Mr. Simpson came to speak to us about how the English language has evolved and changed over the last 1500 years. He started by reading Year 5 an excerpt from the Canterbury Tales and asked the girls to identify any changes with how language was spoken and written in the 1300s compared with today.
Mr. Simpson introduced a timeline to us, from 500AD up to 2000AD. He told us words such as: duck, pig, frog and bread were used in 500 AD. He then introduced us to when certain words have been added to our language, for example the word potato is a mid-16th century word, which comes from the Spanish patata. The word photograph was added to the English language during the Victorian era (with photo meaning light and graph meaning draw in Greek)
John Simpson and Edmund Weiner with a core group of lexicographers reviewed, corrected, and edited the electronic Oxford English Dictionary, as well as adding 5,000 new words and senses to 400,000 definitions previously expressed in 60,000,000 words. In 1989 this was published on time, to great acclaim. The finished work, edited by Simpson and Weiner, fills 22,000 pages which are bound in twenty substantial volumes.
It was fascinating to listen to John Simpson and some of us decided we would like to become lexicographers in the future, researching new words and their etymology to try and get new words added to one of the most famous dictionaries in the world.
Miss Gurney & 5G