To get properly excited about all things Oxford English Dictionary, you may have had to have read The Professor and the Madman. (It is great; here is a review, and here is a Rolling Stone bit about the movie.) The OED is surely the most incredible dictionary ever made, covering as it does the entire English language, from way back, in constant growth and never ever losing any words. It. is. massive. It’s the kinda book Asimov would invent and put in a small marble room to be discovered at the far end of the Andromeda Galaxy. Did one guy write it, you ask? No. Thousands of people contributed, and an entire generation of its first editors died before they were done, and from the publication of its first volume, it took over 40 years to publish the last volume.
Fast forward to the present – well, last March, actually – and there was a big local project with LAPL, called “Hollywood is a Verb: Los Angeles Tackles the Oxford English Dictionary”.
I missed it.
If I’d realized it was happening, I would have gone to a few events, and I certainly would have posted about it. Here’s the website. I’m really bummed I missed it.
BUT, there are still some cool things to check out. Right there on that website, you can find Edward Finegan’s short essay “The Oxford English Dictionary: A Great Read in Alphabetical Order and Otherwise”. It’s the link with the David Bowie quote, “Don’t you love the Oxford Dictionary? …When I first read it, I thought it was a really really long poem about everything.”
ALSO (this is the best) – there is a SoCal Supplement to the dictionary! Check out the downloadable PDF, and bask in your glory, my fellow Angelenos. It looks like most of our words have to do with “The Industry” (which is itself a word in the supplement) and driving. Driving words range from “Sig Alert” to the definite article we use before freeways: “Dude! What are you doing?! Don’t take the 5!” People in other places don’t use the article before the number. (Which sounds really weird to me.) There are even a bunch I’ve never heard of: Dingbat apartment, AWOL (not absent w/out leave), and a few others.
They got something wrong, though – which really surprises me. The word is “E-Ticket”. They call it “a kind of all-access ticket to Disneyland, now obsolete”, which is not quite correct, and their example is off the mark.
Fellow SoCal natives, we will now set the mighty Oxford English Dictionary straight. As you know…
…Back in the day, you’d get ticket books for Disneyland, with a few tickets each of various types, denoted by letters of the alphabet: As, Bs, etc. – up to Es. These would be good for corresponding categories of rides. Generally, the As were low-key type rides, such as the trolley or horse drawn whatevers on Main Street, and the Es were the uber-popular ones, like Matterhorn or Haunted Mansion. So, when you say something is an E-ticket, that means it’s the best and/or really intense or fun. Here is my evidence for the original meaning: from Yesterland, a fan site and from About.com, with mighty Arthur Levine. Here’s current usage in Urban Dictionary (totally legit and authoritative) and as explained from the Julie Brown song. None of that “counts” for OED, because they like to see things in print. Hear me, fancy-pants Dictionarios, WE ARE FROM THIS CORNER OF THE EARTH BORN AND BRED, and we know what we’re talking about! LA natives; SoCal natives; Disneyland natives. We got E-Ticket in our blood, Oxford. That’s all the evidence you need.
I still love you, OED.