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India, a big market for dictionaries: UK publisher


In India, china and Taiwan, a dictionary is seen as a good investment because language is seen to get a good job, and to go abroad for studies

PTINew Delhi: India, among other countries like China and South Korea, is seen as a big market for the English language dictionary, despite a swell in digital tools for word learning and usage, says a UK publisher.

“In places like India and South Korea and in our biggest markets in China and Taiwan, a dictionary is seen as a good investment because language is seen to get a good job, to go study abroad etc. So people are ready to purchase and invest in them,” says Alison Waters, Publisher, ELT dictionaries and reference grammar, Oxford University Press, UK.

Alison was in India for a multicity workshop on the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary for teachers in Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata.

“On the whole the English language market is growing so the business of dictionaries is stable. Because of global recession there is less money around and dictionaries are seen as supplementary materials and not key materials for learning. So there is a threat, particularly in the Euro zone including in the UK,” Alison told PTI in an interview.

In the digital era, mobile phones applications, tablets and handheld devices allow people to search online for words and their correct usages, but the print dictionary has still a long way to go before becoming obsolete. “Even though our online dictionaries are able to offer more, such as quality sound recordings, at the moment what we sell more is the print dictionary. Print is our main focus,” says Alison.

The Advanced Learners Dictionary is one of “bestsellers” from Oxford, she points out. The UK publisher, which brings out 500 dictionaries, thesauruses, and language reference titles in more than 40 languages, also offers CD ROMS and other electronic formats like mobile applications.

“Just because English is now such a global language with so many speakers around the world and a language of communication, politics and business, that in the foreseeable future it is not going to be affected,” says Alison. With English changing and evolving, new words like “selfie” (the 2013 word of the year) and ‘twerk’ are added to dictionary following intense research with sophisticated software tools, which trawl the Internet to track and identify new words.

“The English language itself gets bigger and fatter but not necessarily the print dictionaries, which remain more or less the same size because due to space issues we may take out certain words too,” says Alison.

“The selfie was first spotted in 2002 and used once in Australia when a drunk person posted a picture of himself after he hurt his face. We got several more cases on Flicker in 2004 but it was not enough to register on our radar. In 2012 it really took off because several celebrities used it.”

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