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  1. #1
    AlexAD's Avatar
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    Lightbulb The OALD - a word absent

    Hello!

    At times I can't pull up a word, which I have encoutered while reading a story, from the OALD. And here is a very important question for me arising; Can I consider the word is rarely used because of that or I can't?

    Here are two examples:

    greenwood (Yes, it is absent in the OALD!), athirst for action

    Let me explain why that is so important for me. The thing is I use unknown words in sentences of my own, which are very practical (may I replace practical with sensible here?), to memorize them. I mean sentences that I would really use in some situations. So I don't want to seem posh or pompous when I am using the words I know.

    P.S. I didn't find any relative information just yet in the OALD itself, but I will try again more thoroughly.

    I would appreciate any comments you might have.

    I would be grateful if you, dear teachers, would proofread my post.

    Thanks, Alex.

  2. #2
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: The OALD - a word absent

    Both words are poetic and/or archaic. They are, rightly, not in the ALD. Most learners would not meet them in a lifetime of learning. Many native speakers would never use them, though they would probably recognise them if they saw them in a story about Ronin Hood or Ivanhoe.

    You can be reasonably sure that, if you cannot find a word in the Oxford ALD or similar dictionaries, that it is not in common use. Note, however, that many technical words are not included in such dictionaries, nor are words that have very recently come into common use.
    Last edited by 5jj; 15-Jun-2011 at 17:21.

  3. #3
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: The OALD - a word absent

    Quote Originally Posted by AlexAD View Post
    Hello!

    At times I can't pull up a word, which I have encoutered while reading a story, from the OALD. And here is a very important question for me arising; Can I consider the word is rarely used because of that or I can't?

    Here are two examples:

    greenwood (Yes, it is absent in the OALD!), athirst for action

    Let me explain why that is so important for me. The thing is I use unknown words in sentences of my own, which are very practical (may I replace practical with sensible here?), to memorize them. I mean sentences that I would really use in some situations. So I don't want to seem posh or pompous when I am using the words I know.

    P.S. I didn't find any relative information just yet in the OALD itself, but I will try again more thoroughly.

    I would appreciate any comments you might have.

    I would be grateful if you, dear teachers, would proofread my post.

    Thanks, Alex.
    The problem is you can't avoid sounding posh or pompous if you say 'athirst for action'. It's archaic. There used to be lots of adjectives formed by prefixing 'a-' to a noun - like 'abed' (two syllables, meaning 'in bed').

    Any dictionary selects. Some have only 40,000 or 80,000 words, some pride themselves on being much less selective; but even the most all-encompassing of them all (the Oxford English Dictionary...[compiled] on historical principles') Is still selective: if a word has appeared in print only 5 times, it doesn't get in. But 'athirst' does!

    Making and selling dictionaries involves very complex calculations involving size, cost of materials, market considerations... When Mr Hornby in Hong Kong was compiling the OALDCE, he had to draw the line somewhere.

    b

  4. #4
    AlexAD's Avatar
    AlexAD is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: The OALD - a word absent

    fivejedjon, BobK thank you a lot!

    That part made me confident:
    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    You can be reasonably sure that, if you cannot find a word in the Oxford ALD or similar dictionaries, that it is not in common use. Note, however, that many technical words are not included in such dictionaries, nor are words that have very recently come into common use.
    You are a great help!

    Is my grammar good?
    Would I have used 'sensible' instead of 'practical' there?
    (Do we need the definite article before 'sensible' and 'practical'?).

    Thanks, Alex.

  5. #5
    AlexAD's Avatar
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    Default Re: The OALD - a word absent

    Here is another question that has just arisen in my head, 'Should I come across a word that is marked either as literary or old-fashioned in the OALD there is no reason to doubt it, is there?' To be more specific I will give you an example that makes me hesitate,

    'They were brave words, for Robin, with his bow, had the advantage'

    Here, they write, 'for' acts as conjunction and it is marked as literaly and old-fashioned. So, I guess I shouldn't use this construction in my speech, is that right? And it is only for me to understand what I find in writing.

    Thanks, Alex.
    Last edited by AlexAD; 15-Jun-2011 at 20:48.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: The OALD - a word absent

    Quote Originally Posted by AlexAD View Post
    Here is another question that has just arisen in my head, 'Should I come across a word that is marked either as literalry or old-fashioned in the OALD there is no reason to doubt it, is there?' To be more specific I will give you an example that makes me hesitatinge,

    'They were brave words, for Robin, with his bow, had the advantage'

    Here, they write, 'for' acts as conjunction and it is marked as literalry and old-fashioned. So, I guess I shouldn't use this construction in my speech, is that right? And it is only for me to understand writings what I find in writing (?)
    It's not really a question of 'shouldn't'. However, if dictionaries add this sort of note, then they are suggesting that, if you use it, you will be saying something that the average native speaker probably wouldn't.

    Another example: Your use of 'should I come across...' is perfectly correct, but may mark you as one or more of the following: formal, old-fashioned, pretentious, academic, 'posh', or - a non-native speaker.

  7. #7
    AlexAD's Avatar
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    Default Re: The OALD - a word absent

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    It's not really a question of 'shouldn't'. However, if dictionaries add this sort of note, then they are suggesting that, if you use it, you will be saying something that the average native speaker probably wouldn't.

    Another example: Your use of 'should I come across...' is perfectly correct, but may mark you as one or more of the following: formal, old-fashioned, pretentious, academic, 'posh', or - a non-native speaker.
    Thank you, 5jj, for correcting my writing.

    I beg to disagree with you on the given example. I can see security notes I brought from Johannesburg, and here they write: 'Should you become a victim of crime, please call something' So it might be formal but not old-fashioned, pretentious... mightn't it? Or do South Africans have some special English ?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: The OALD - a word absent

    Quote Originally Posted by AlexAD View Post
    I beg to disagree with you on the given example. I can see security notes I brought from Johannesburg, and here they write: 'Should you become a victim of crime, please call something' So it might be formal but not old-fashioned, pretentious... mightn't it?
    I did not say that it was pretentious, etc. I said that it may mark you as....

    I may not have expressed myself very clearly. I meant that some people might feel that you sounded pretentious, etc . I also meant (and wrote) that you might be considered any one (or possibly more than one) of these things - not all.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: The OALD - a word absent

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    ...

    Another example: Your use of 'should I come across...' is perfectly correct, but may mark you as one or more of the following: formal, old-fashioned, pretentious, academic, 'posh', or - a non-native speaker.
    AlexAD; I've highlighted the key words; if a usage is formal, it qualifies as 'one ...'. Try to weigh 5jj's words; he's quite careful with them.

    b

  10. #10
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: The OALD - a word absent

    Quote Originally Posted by AlexAD View Post
    Thank you, 5jj, for correcting my writing.

    I beg to disagree with you on the given example. I can see security notes I brought from Johannesburg, and here they write: 'Should you become a victim of crime, please call something' So it might be formal but not old-fashioned, pretentious... mightn't it? Or do South Africans have some special English ?

    No- it's normal English, but it's written and semi-formal. Should I/you... is used, but it's more of a written form than a spoke4n one, at least colloquial speech.

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