Re: Towards a classification system for uses of the Private Use Area

From: William Overington (
Date: Mon Apr 29 2002 - 11:29:57 EDT

Michael Everson wrote as follows.

>The New Oxford gives "font" as the primary spelling and lists (Brit.
>also fount). In the IT world, nobody uses "fount". Rather like
>"program" which is ubiquitous for software, while "programme" remains
>for broadcasting and printed fliers.

An interesting paradox concerning the Oxford English Dictionary is that many
people regard it as stating what are the correct definitions of words. Yet
the Oxford English Dictionary itself states something along the lines that
it does not seek to say what are the correct definitions of words but simply
reports the usages that people make of words. So, the system of what
English words mean holds itself up by its bootstraps!

I always use the spelling "program" when referring to software and
"programme" when referring to a television programme. I think that many
people in England do that, it is as if they are two entirely different words
that happen to sound the same!

For the avoidance of doubt for an international audience, the Oxford English
Dictionary is the twenty volume set with full etymological information.
There are also other dictionaries, typically one volume, in the same range
of dictionaries, of various types. The 20 volume set seems to be widely
available in many (all or almost all?) public libraries in England. It is a
very valuable facility to be able to go into a public library and use such a
comprehensive etymological dictionary. Does the twenty volume Oxford
English Dictionary tend to be available on the shelves of many public
libraries in other parts of the world please?

William Overington

29 April 2002

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