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Man reads entire Oxford dictionary


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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

news icon rBy any sane reckoning Ammon Shea is a vocabularian - one who pays too much attention to words.

In a single, gruelling year, the sometime furniture removal man, busker and gondolier from New York has read the entire 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary from cover to cover.

news icon View: Full Article | Source: Times Online

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linked-imageBy any sane reckoning Ammon Shea is a vocabularian - one who pays too much attention to words. In a single, gruelling year, the sometime furniture removal man, busker and gondolier from New York has read the entire 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary from cover to cover. He has returned from his adventure in the far reaches of the English language with a rich harvest of obscure and forgotten words to share: indispensable gems such as "deipnophobia" (fear of dinner parties) or "apricity" (the warmth of the sun in winter). In return he suffered back pain, problems with his sight and constant headaches. As his book, Reading the Oxford English Dictionary, makes clear, Mr Shea's feat failed to make him a better person, improve his conversation or make him appear more intelligent. Rather it turned him into a mafflard (a stuttering or blundering fool), bedevilled by onomatomania (vexation at having difficulty in finding the right word). "It had a horrible effect on my ability to interact with people," said Mr Shea, whose book is published in Britain on October 16. "There was such a profusion of words in my head I almost lost the ability to speak and ended up stuttering or groping for words like some kind of blithering idiot. Most of the time it wasn't that I forgot the right bon mot; it was that I would forget the word for bread or shoes." The statistics of Mr Shea's eccentric achievement are formidable: 59 million words spread over 21,370 large pages of small print, the equivalent of reading the entire King James Bible every day for two and a half months or a new John Grisham novel every day for more than a year. The section devoted to words beginning with the prefix "un", nearly all of them tediously self-explanatory, is twice as long as The Lord of the Rings and there are more than 30,000 citations from Shakespeare alone.

linked-image View: Full Article | Source: Times Online

So this guy is publishing a book about reading a book? I read another book about a guy who reads the entire encyclopedia brittanica, which is also a very long book. Well, whilst they are obviously deranged infomaniacs, maybe they are doing it so we don't have to. They can pick out a few highlights and tell us those instead.

I did like "apricity" (the warmth of the sun in winter)

Reading the dictionary would be nuts though, cos it's just information. There's no narrative or prose. Still, the thought of reading a John Grisham novel every day for a year is a lot more more terrifying! :o

I'm not sure anyone could actually take that many legal dramas and survive the ordeal. You would be lost in a mental nightmare of jury intimidation, plea bargains and shady lawyers, for a whole year. The plot twists would probably finish you off by month 3, I reckon.

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(59 million words spread over 21,370 large pages of small print) :sk

Depression May Lead to it... :cry:

Or just nuts. :mellow:

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Out of all the books on his bookshelf, why the dictionary? What sort of person wakes up one morning and thinks 'Hmm, I want to start reading something today, aha there's the Oxford Dictionary, I'll give that a spin.'? Is he ever going to read a book the same way again?

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Oh, and I don't think NEGATIVELY about this man in ANY WAY. I ACTUALLY think he has done GOOD to teach us a LESSON.

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Is he ever going to read a book the same way again?

lol he will probably keep refering to the dictionary for the meaning of words in his book. But after the dictionary i think he needs light reading like this

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I would love to have read this dictionary. It would do wonders for a writer. Never again would one need a thesauraus when writing a story and it would add more depth and meaning to ones literary works because you would have a much more substantial vocabulary and a keener understanding of words.

At last one would find a description for many things such as emotions or circumstance that you havent been able to find a word for as yet to give it meaning so as to at last undertsand. It would lead to a deeper understanding of life.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I would love to have read this dictionary. It would do wonders for a writer. Never again would one need a thesauraus when writing a story and it would add more depth and meaning to ones literary works because you would have a much more substantial vocabulary and a keener understanding of words.

At last one would find a description for many things such as emotions or circumstance that you havent been able to find a word for as yet to give it meaning so as to at last undertsand. It would lead to a deeper understanding of life.

But see the problem with that is the guy just read a dictionary, his not going to go on and become a best selling author. Therefore his reading of the entire dictionary seems like time wasted as his not really going to apply the knowledge. Eminem at one stage also studied the dictionary to improve the vocabulary in his rhymes, as i'm sure many authors have aswell.

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