Word Power

It takes five painstaking years to put together the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and the massive exercise of compiling the new 8th edition began way back, in 2005. "Tweet" has been included "since people like Barack Obama and Bill Gates use Twitter," says Alison Waters, lexicographer and publishing manager with the Oxford University Press, who was on a visit to the country. Waters, 46, has included 1,000 new words after an in-depth research in lifestyle and cultural changes across the world.

"The hardest part is that with each successive edition the pages are increasing. We have to crunch the material because you cannot publish 20 volumes," she smiles, flipping the pages of the dictionary. A lexicographer for 12 years, Waters is in charge of 90 dictionaries and has also compiled other OUP initiatives like the Student's Dictionary and the Oxford Essential Dictionary. New words in this edition include "credit crunch", inspired by the recession, and "carbon-offset" thanks to awareness about global warming. "We make sure the dictionary is a reflection of the world in transition," says Waters, who supervises an editorial team of 15 lexicographers for every dictionary. They visit English-language teachers around the world as part of their research.

After going through over 2,000 entries, Waters came up with a list of words to be removed to make space for newer, more relevant ones. So the new edition has discarded "glasnost" and "perestroika", while "chapatti" has been included along with "niqab" and "kirpan".

There are also words like "revert": this time the Oxford gives one of its meanings as "reply", as it is commonly used by Indians (in Britain, "revert" only means going back to something). "Eight Indian English words are included in the dictionary," says Waters, who is currently compiling a digital dictionary.

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