Beyond Books

Oxford ex-editor secretly deleted Indian words

  • PTI, London
  • |
  • Updated: Nov 29, 2012 12:57 IST

A former editor of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) attempted to rewrite it by deleting thousands of words with foreign roots, including those of Indian
origin, a new book claims.

Robert Burchfield — long considered the man who opened up the English dictionary to the wider world — deleted words like balisaur, a badger-like animal from India, danchi, a Bengali plant, and boviander, the name in British Guyana for a person of mixed race living on the river banks.

The OED is now re-examining words removed by Burchfield, who died in 2004, the Daily Mail reported.

Sarah Ogilvie, a former OED editor herself, in her book, Words of the World, also reveals how Burchfield started a rumour that his earlier editors were inward-looking anglocentrics and had deleted the words. She compared his four OED dictionaries (1972-86) to a 1933 edition and found that he had erased 17% of the ‘loanwords’.

 

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