Bookseller Briefing 25/18 – week ending 22 June

The Bookseller


Oxford English Dictionary hunts for regional words

Oxford University Press is asking members of the public to submit local words, phrases and expressions from around the world for inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary.

In a blog post, the publisher said: “How we speak can reveal where we are from: not just our accent, but the language we use. Words and phrases particular to a city, region, or country are a distinctive part of English, and we at the OED are asking you to help us identify and record them.

“Many of us can recall a moment when a word we’ve known and used for years at home turns out to be baffling to people from other parts of our own country, or from another English-speaking region. If a picture is hanging askew, would you say that it is agley, catawampous, antigodlin, or ahoo?  At the beach, do you wear flip-flops – or would you refer to them as zoris, jandals, or slipslops?”

The publisher has created an online form where people can submit their favourite local words and has created a hashtag #wordswhereyouare. On Twitter, someone has already suggested “stop being a squinny”, which means stop being a baby in Portsmouth, and Katherine Connor Martin, head of US dictionaries at OUP, said American suggestions so far include ‘frog-drowner’ (a heavy rainstorm) and ‘’mommick’.

OUP associate editor Eleanor Maier told the Guardian that it can be difficult for the OED’s lexicographers to identify regional words, as they are more often spoken than written down.

“In recent years, resources such as Twitter have been a great way for us to monitor the words that people are using informally in particular parts of the world and this, combined with targeted appeals, allows a lot more of these words to be identified and researched,” she said.

“Regional words indicate that their users come from a particular place and often contribute to one’s sense of identity.”

John Murray and Hodder celebrate 400 years of publishing

Four hundred years of publishing history was toasted last night at the combined John Murray 250th and Hodder & Stoughton 150th anniversary party.

Over 500 people attended the event at London’s Guildhall, a venue that Hodder, Headline, John Murray and Quercus c.e.o. Jamie Hodder-Williams noted in his funny and warm speech was just a stone’s throw away from where the two firms were founded in 1768 and 1868.

Hodder-Williams began his speech noting that “you don’t have to be a Hodder to work here, but it helps” and saluted the many people who contributed to the firms’ success, including the Murray family.

He said: “For almost 250 years everyone who ran John Murray was named John Murray, which is impressive branding”. He also singled out former Hachette c.e.o. Tim Hely Hutchinson, who merged Headline with Hodder in 1993 and brought John Murray into the Hachette fold in 2002.

Tim Hely Hutchinson and David Shelley

Hodder-Williams hailed agents, current staffers, particularly John Murray Press m.d. Nick Davies and the “inspirational” Hodder m.d. Carolyn Mays, but particularly praised the companies’ authors “without who we are nothing. Thank you for the books you’ve written—and the books you are going to write.”

Hodder-Williams also recounted a trip he and Mays took to the Hodder archives which unearthed “many fascinating things but also a lot of letters from agents complaining about royalties and authors apologising for getting too drunk at parties. Nothing changes.”

Hannah Black and Graham Norton

The event served as the unofficial launch of former BBC Radio 4 presenter Edward Stourton’s The Publishing Game, a history of Hodder which is to be released in July.

Among the authors in attendance were David Nicholls, Erin Kelly, Graham Norton, Mike Gayle, Mick Herron and James Bowen and his streetcat, Bob.