It is 1993, and John Simpson is appointed chief editor of the OED. He finds himself in trouble with the British Potato Council for the inclusion of the phrase 'couch potato'.
Language is always changing. No one knows where it is going, but the best way to peer into the future is to look at the past. John Simpson brings to life a tradition of researching and editing, describing the way in which the Oxford English Dictionary is written and updated - based on historical principles showing how language evolves.
John Simpson joined the staff of the OED in the pre-digital 1970s. He retired as Chief Editor in 2013, having overseen the digitisation of the dictionary in the 1980s, before taking it online in 2000.
With a sense of humour, an ability to laugh at bureaucracy and an inclination to question the status quo, he gives life to the colourful characters at the OED and to the English language itself.
In today's episode, it's 1993 and John Simpson is appointed Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. He finds himself in trouble with the British Potato Council for the inclusion of the phrase "couch potato".
Abridged by Libby Spurrier.
Read by Nigel Anthony.
Producer David Blount
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.
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- Fri 17 Mar 2017 19:45