Historical Thesaurus wins Saltire award

Published: 1 December 2009

The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary has won the National Library of Scotland/Saltire Society Research Book of the Year Award.

The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary has won the National Library of Scotland/Saltire Society Research Book of the Year Award.

In a triple celebration for the University, Professor Alexander Broadie, Emeritus Professor of Logic and Rhetoric and an Honorary Professorial Research Fellow in the Department of History, won the Scottish History Book of the year awarded by the Saltire Society with 'A History of Scottish Philosophy' (published by Edinburgh University Press, 2009). 

And a recent graduate of the University of Glasgow’s Creative Writing Masters, Eleanor Thom won the Saltire Homecoming Literary Awards Scottish First Book of the Year for her book, The Tin-Kin (Duckworth, 2009).*

The award ceremony took place in The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh on 30 November. The aim of the Saltire Society is to preserve all that is best in Scottish tradition and to encourage every new development which can strengthen and enrich the country's cultural life.

Published by Oxford University Press, the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary is the work of a dedicated team of scholars within the English Language Department of the University of Glasgow. The grand ambition, from the inception of the project in the 1960s, was to take almost every word in the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary and map them on to a vast classification structure, so that words with similar meaning would be grouped together.

The result, more than 40 years and many hundreds of thousands of person-hours later, is truly awe-inspiring. It is the first historical thesaurus ever produced for any language, containing almost every word in English from Old English to the present day, and is a magnificent resource for the historical study of the language.

"I'm delighted to accept the award on behalf of the editors and the many people who have worked on the Thesaurus over the last 44 years,” said Professor Christian Kay, director of the project. “It's a great honour for us that the Saltire Society has recognised the dedication of the team at the University of Glasgow who had the vision to establish the project and see it through to publication, surviving fire, funding cuts and changing technology along the way."

The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary has been received with great acclaim by the media, academics, historical writers, and word-lovers alike:

“Surely one of the most extraordinary books of reference ever compiled.” - Sir Roy Strong
‘A masterpiece worth waiting 40 years for’ - Daily Telegraph
‘An awesome tribute to the English language’ - Sunday Times
‘I’ve already built a shrine to it in my living room.’ Author Tibor Fischer, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row programme

Further information:

* Eleanor Thom: http://www.eleanorthom.com/

Professor Alexander Broadie: http://www.gla.ac.uk/departments/history/staff/academicstaff/alexanderbroadie/#d.en.137311

For more information about the Historical Thesaurus or to interview Professor Christian Kay, please contact Juliet Evans at Oxford University Press on 01865 353911 / 07881 935196 or email juliet.evans@oup.com

The Saltire Society
Established in the 1930s, to celebrate the rich culture, history and environment of Scotland. The name Saltire is taken from the saltire, the heraldic name of the Cross of St. Andrew.

Oxford University Press
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First published: 1 December 2009