What has insanity and madness to do with the most reputed dictionary in English language? Let’s see. Oxford English Dictionary or OED is different from other dictionaries. It not only provides the meaning of a word but also traces the history of a word. The dictionary illustrates with quotations how the meaning of a word has changed over time.
The work on the dictionary began in 1857.
The need for a comprehensive dictionary was first realised by a philological society entirely unconnected to Oxford. Later the Oxford University took over the project. It took almost seventy years to complete the first edition of the dictionary. It is difficult to even imagine the Herculean task and effort behind such a great compilation especially during that time.
The first editor of the project was Herbert Coleridge. But it was under the editorship of James Murray that the dictionary took shape. Hundreds of volunteers contributed the quotes to illustrate the usage of a word over time. Among these contributors there was one name which stood out - Dr. William Chester Minor. He was a dedicated volunteer who supplied tens of thousands of quotes. But he was also a mystery man. Though Murray and Minor corresponded regularly, Minor never attended the volunteer meetings. At last in 1896, Murray went to visit Minor. What he found out was shocking! Dr. Minor was an inmate in the Broadmoor Asylum for the criminally insane.
Dr. Minor was an American. He served as an assistant surgeon in the union army during the civil war. The trauma of war rendered him mentally unstable. His mental illness resulted in his early retirement from the army. After his retirement, he travelled. On one of his travels in London the mentally unstable Minor committed a murder after which he became an inmate of Broadmoor Asylum. It is probably in one of the magazines he subscribed, he came across Murray's advertisement seeking volunteers to contribute to the dictionary. Minor devoted the rest of his life to the work. The work was a blessing for Minor who struggled with his illusions and fears. As it turned out it was a blessing for OED too.
The Oxford English Dictionary is hugely indebted to Dr. Minor. He was an intellectual who gave thousands of quotations particularly from the 16th and 17th centuries . Dr. Minor is now remembered not as a lunatic but as one of most valuable contributors to OED.
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കരിയർ ഫ്രണ്ട് – Issue #9 : വിദ്യാര്ത്ഥികളുടെ അഭിരുചിക്കനുസരിച്ചുള്ള കരിയര് കണ്ടെത്താന് വിദ്യാ സാരഥി