OED 編纂を巡る映画『博士と狂人』（原題 The Professor and the Madman）が10月16日（金）に全国ロードショー開始となります．メル・ギブソン（博士 James Murray 役）とショーン・ペン（狂人 Doctor Minor 役）の初共演．「孤高の学者と，呪われた殺人犯．世界最大の英語辞典誕生に隠された，真実の物語」というキャッチです．
原作はノンフィクション作家 Simon Winchester による The Professor and the Madman (1998) ．同作家による2003年出版の The Meaning of Everything も，同じく OED 編纂にかかる人間模様を活写しており，抜群におもしろいです．
OED とは何か．これを分かりやすく説明するのは容易ではありませんが，The Professor and the Madman の2章 (25--26) に，著者による導入の文章があるので，引用しておきましょう．OED の編纂法に焦点を当てた導入です．
It took more than seventy years to create the twelve tombstone-size volumes that made up the first edition of what was to become the great Oxford English Dictionary. This heroic, royally dedicated literary masterpiece---which was first called the New English Dictionary, but eventually became the Oxford ditto, and thenceforward was known familiarly by its initials as the OED---was completed in 1928; over the following years there were five supplements and then, half a century later, a second edition that integrated the first and all the subsequent supplementary volumes into one new twenty-volume whole. The book remains in all senses a truly monumental work---and with very little serious argument is still regarded as a paragon, the most definitive of all guides to the language that, for good or ill, has become the lingua franca of the civilized modern world.
Just as English is a very large and complex language, so the OED is a very large and complex book. It defines well over half a million words. It contains scores of millions of characters, and, at least in its early version, many miles of hand-set type. Its enormous---and enormously heavy---volumes are bound in dark blue cloth: Printers and designers and bookbinders worldwide see it as an apotheosis of their art, a handsome and elegant creation that looks and feels more than amply suited to its lexical thoroughness and accuracy.
The OED's guiding principle, the one that has set it apart from most other dictionaries, is its rigorous dependence on gathering quotations from published or otherwise recorded uses of English and using them to illustrate the use of the sense of every single word in the language. The reason behind this unusual and tremendously labor-intensive style of editing and compiling was both bold and simple: By gathering and publishing selected quotations, the dictionary could demonstrate the full range of characteristics of each and every word with a very great degree of precision. Quotations could show exactly how a word has been employed over the centuries; how it has undergone subtle changes of shades of meaning, or spelling, or pronunciation; and, perhaps most important of all, how and more exactly when each word slipped into the language in the first place. No other means of dictionary compilation could do such a thing: Only by finding and showing examples could the full range of a word's past possibilities be explored.
この後も OED 導入の文章が続きますが，ここまででも編纂法のユニークさが分かると思います．物語『博士と狂人』は，OED 編纂法のこのユニークな点を軸に展開していきます．上映が実に楽しみです．
・ Winchester, Simon. The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary. New York: HarperCollins P, 1998. HarperPerennial ed. 1999.
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