First to use the Net

The Internet is now being used to write “world” dictionaries. Three years in the making, the Encarta “World English” Dictionary on CD-ROM is scheduled to hit store shelves in August, with plenty of new words and easier-to-understand definitions. The dictionary’s release marks the first time World English and the Internet have been used in developing a new lexicon.

The dictionary was written after London-based Bloomsbury Publishing Plc asked Microsoft to create an easy-to-read and easy-to-use dictionary, with clear definitions for everyday language. Anne Soukhanov, an American editor and lexicographer, and Kathy Rooney, Bloomsbury’s editor in chief, led a team of more than 320 expert editors, lexicographers and consultants from 20 English-speaking countries. The team used a combination of computer and Internet technology to compile, edit and research the new dictionary.

With its various editions, the World Dictionary gives a global perspective to words such as smurf, goth, outport, carnapper and creepback. Quick definitions, which come before full definitions, give a concise six to seven word summary of every word, and the inclusion of new words such as autogenoci, splatterpunk, keypal and greentailing (I’ll have to look those up!) give a what Mircosoft calls a “fuller picture” of the English language through 400,000 references.