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13 June 2014
The former Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, John Simpson, has been awarded an OBE for his services to literature in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday honours list, published on Saturday 14 June. The list recognizes the achievements of a wide range of extraordinary people across the UK—the honour of Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) is awarded for having a major local role in any activity, including people whose work has made them known nationally in their chosen area.
John, whose pioneering leadership saw the OED embrace the internet, joined the editorial staff in 1976, and became Co-Editor with Edmund Weiner in 1985. He was appointed Chief Editor in 1993, becoming the seventh OED Editor since Sir James Murray’s appointment in 1879. Under John’s editorship, over 60,000 new words and meanings were added to the dictionary. John retired from his role as chief editor in October 2013, and he continues to work with the OED as a consultant. Receiving the award, he said: ‘I’m delighted to get this award—it’s recognition for the Oxford English Dictionary and all the staff who work there’.
Nigel Portwood, Chief Executive of Oxford University Press, commented ‘We’re delighted that John Simpson has been honoured with an OBE. It is a richly deserved recognition of his outstanding leadership of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), and a testament to the regard in which the OED is held, both nationally and internationally’.
John was born and educated in Cheltenham. He is a member of the English Faculty at Oxford and of the Philological Society (where the idea of the Dictionary was first mooted in the 1850s), and a Fellow of Kellogg College. He is a world expert on proverbs and slang, and has edited dictionaries on both these subjects for Oxford University Press; he regularly lectures and broadcasts on the English language and on the Dictionary.
To see the full listing of the 2014 Queen’s Birthday honours, visit the gov.uk website.
For details of the Oxford English Dictionary visit www.oed.com