Friday, July 01, 2005

Your Language Needs You

Did you eat a balti before 1984 or have a mullet before 1994? And do you know how they got their names?

A forthcoming BBC TWO series invites you to hunt for words and help rewrite the Oxford English Dictionary. We are appealing to the nation to help solve some of the most intriguing recent word mysteries in the language.

The OED seeks to find the earliest verifiable usage of every single word in the English language. The 50 words on the appeal list all have a date next to them, corresponding to the earliest evidence the dictionary currently has for that word or phrase. Can you trump that?

To join the word hunt, you might find an earlier appearance of the word in a book or a magazine, in a movie script, a fanzine, or even in a private letter. The most important thing is that it can be dated.

Sometimes the OED can't tell how a word was invented - so if you can fill us in, so much the better. We've indicated next to these words that they are 'origin uncertain'. If you have a convincing theory, we'd like to hear from you. If you can prove you're right, you might help in rewriting the dictionary.

For a list of the words click here:
BBC - History - Programmes - Wordhunt

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