In “A Variorum OED” (13/7/2020) I gave a couple of brief reasons why we should be interested in knowing what revisions OED has made to words, senses, and documentation over its several Editions, Supplements, and Additional Series.
The need for a Variorum–i.e. a detailed revision history for every published element of the OED since 1884–is becoming even more acute, as the OED3 revision project begins to increase the amount of “spot revision”, or partial revision, as well as re-revision and ongoing editorial maintenance, vis-à-vis its traditional practice of staged, entry-by-entry revision of pre-2000 material.
An example of both the partial revision and the re-revision that has been going on behind the scenes in OED3 came up in my post on the rise of Twitter as an OED source (“From ‘Awesomesauce’ to ‘Unlike’: Twitter in the OED” – 4/8/2020), where they, fully revised in 2013, had been partially re-revised with several more recent quotations reflecting gender neutrality, ambiguity, or non-binarism, and augmented by at least one new sense entirely, to refer a “person whose sense of personal identity does not correspond to conventional sex and gender distinctions” (first evidence from Twitter in 2009, latest from 2019).
From my present vantage in December 2020, I can deduce that this sense (and perhaps the other additional quotation evidence?) was added at some time in the last 13 or 14 months, since the post-2013 material includes evidence dated October 2019.
What I don’t know is what other emendations might have been made between 2013 and the end of 2019. In the same vein and to a greater degree, 20 or 50 years from now people looking up they won’t necessarily know at what point(s) after 2019 the entry was updated (or where and how).
Consider, relatedly I think, the OED entry for transgender, which today, in December of 2020, looks like this (you should be able to scroll within the frame): Read More