Considerably more than a year ago, I contacted those nice people at the Oxford English Dictionary to point out to them that one of their definitions of a word in common and regular use was hopelessly out of date. It did not include the definition understood by 99% of the population. The word in question, ‘Inferno’, interested me because of its association with Hell, and its generally understood definition as ‘A large fire, dangerously out of control’. For further (if somewhat tedious) detail, see my blog post: http://www.mirlibooks.com/blog/life-imitates-art-hell-and-the-oxford-english-dictionary
After 16 months, and around half a dozen emails to the OED, I have finally received a personalized acknowledgement thanking me for my trouble and interest, but pointing out, nevertheless, that they are all very busy there and not to expect an update any time soon.
Now I’ll admit to being a tad old fashioned, but is it really more important to incorporate that cretinous word (and activity) ‘Selfie’ into the venerable OED, than to ensure that words in common parlance are properly defined.
One explanation for the loooong time apparently needed to update this word – inferno = large fire, out of control, a meaning which dates at least from the 1930s and probably well before – is that Time Dilation, that curious phenomenon resulting from Special and General Relativity, is in full effect at Oxford. Einstein’s General Relativity requires that clocks close to intense gravity fields, run slow. Thus the GPS system, used by almost everyone these days, has to have the accurate clocks on its satellites adjusted by a relativistic factor to those on Earth, because the latter are closer to the Earth’s gravitational mass and run slower than those in space.
I postulate a new theory of Social General Relativity: the offices of the Oxford English Dictionary, situated as they are so close to the intellectual mass of all of those academics at the University of Oxford, are unaware that their clocks have been considerably slowed down. This is due to the weight of all of that learning. Naturally then, it will take them far longer than normal mortals – in our un-slowed time frames – to achieve anything.
I cannot account for this unconscionable time discrepancy in any other way.
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Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs