Evolution of English Language Dictionaries

I should admit up front that I am not a language specialist and also not an expert on Dictionaries.

I recently listened to a podcast that talked about how dictionaries have been evolving, and how new words have entered the dictionaries, but sadly at the cost of deletion of some of the classic English Language words, which we would look for quite frequently about 25 years ago.

Many new words have crept in from the start of the digital era, followed by the Internet era, the mobile era – words like “Ping”, “Texting”, “Lol”, all the short texting language, and of course the Covid19 Pandemic has made not only introduced but made certain words popular, like Quarantine, Social Distancing, Mask, Immunity.

The dictionaries that the children of today use, are so very different from the Dictionaries of my times; I am not surprised, as I went to school in the pre-Digital Era, that is 1970”s. While many of us have kept up with new vocabulary, there are many times I am surprised with a new word, and new “Lingo”! I also tend to struggle to find words that I was used to a couple of decades ago.

Also when we were in school, in the 1970’s Dictionaries and Encyclopedias were highly respected and cherished Books. Expensive and generally available only in school libraries. Later it became less expensive when they started to become available of cheaper paper, reduced size (Remember pocket dictionaries). For those of us who cherish the times when we could hold the big Oxford English Dictionary in our Hands, it is all online today. Brittanica World Encyclopedia that was available in 12 Volumes, has pretty much vanished today, because anyhow everything is available online, and it has become ubiquitous because you can access all these on your smartphone.

Video content has also been a game-changer, with a lot of valuable infotainment and Educational content also available on platforms like youtube. You can now, virtually, visit any place you have always wanted to. Nothing like being there in the real world to take in the vibes, the ambiance, the “touch & feel”, and the wealth of learning that happens by traveling. Video lectures of interesting personalities, graphic visualisations of certain concepts in Science and Maths are invaluable.

I personally, still feel nostalgic about holding a Dictionary in my hand, or an Encyclopedia volume in my hand and browsing through it.

I read a lot on LinkedIn and other digital and online media formats. I also write on LinkedIn. But, it is Ironic, that I still prefer, and keen to get my hands on a printed and well bound Dictionary or an Encyclopedia.


About the author

D Sudhanva is the founder and CEO at Excelsoft Technologies, a globally renowned eLearning Solutions Company. With a focus on transforming education across the world, Sudhanva has steered Excelsoft to be a thought leader in Education Technology with robust products delivering innovative solutions.

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