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Poetry comes in many different forms, and has long been used as a mechanism for commenting on the world we live in. Below is a short series of e-lessons based on rapper and poet Dizraeli's work, The 21st Century Flux, about the English language as well as a downloadable pdf of the lyrics.
The work of a dictionary team is never done. Our lexicographers spend hours, days, weeks poring over entries, searching through references, compiling examples, checking our corpus for the latest change or trend. But the thing is, English is a wonderfully mercurial thing. It just keeps moving, morphing and muddling, not just in the mouths of native speakers, but all over the world. So, we set ourselves a challenge: how do we sum up what this fabulous language is doing globally? What is it up to while we as lexicographers do our best to keep up? What is happening in the mouths of all of those who use it out of need and necessity to do their business, to pass their exam, to update their status? What are you doing with English?
And here, we realize, we move outside the realm of lexicography and into the domain of philosophers and poets.
So we approached Dizraeli saying that: "Dictionaries are not meant to be prescriptive and English really is an ever-evolving, highly adaptable lingua franca … a language without borders". We explained how we wanted to explore English as it belongs to whoever is using it and that we were planning to do that by asking the question – country by country: What's your English? And that we wanted to document the answers on the blog and in the Open Dictionary – to create an ongoing conversation around the answer to that question. We asked Dizraeli if he could write and perform something that would get this message across, something that would introduce this year-long exploration of English around the world.
And that's how and why we made this video, and we hope to make many more. We invite you to make your own answering the same question: What's your English? Send us the link to your video on YouTube and we may just do something magic with it …
'The more words we have, the more ways we have to express the world we have to co-exist in.' That really gives a dictionary a reason to live, yes?
For more video resources, including a rap battle video, script and downloadable lesson plans, see this page.