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A Life In Words

I am a lexicographer, that is a dictionary maker, specialising in slang, about which I have been compiling dictionaries, writing and broadcasting since 1984.  I have also written a history of lexicography. After working on my university newspaper I joined the London ‘underground press’ in 1969, working for most of the then available titles, such as Friends, IT and Oz. I have been publishing books since the mid-1970s, spending the next decade putting together a number of dictionaries of quotations, before I moved into what remains my primary interest, slang. I have also published three oral histories: one on the hippie Sixties, one on first generation immigrants to the UK and one on the sexual revolution and its development.  Among other non-slang titles have been three dictionaries of occupational jargon, a narrative history of the Sixties, a book on cannabis, and an encyclopedia of censorship. As a freelancer I have broadcast regularly on the radio, made appearances on TV, including a 30-minute study of slang in 1996, and and written columns both for academic journals and for the Erotic Review.

My slang work has reached its climax, but I trust not its end, with the publication in 2010 of Green’s Dictionary of Slang, a three volume, 6,200-page  dictionary ‘on historical principles’ offering some 110,000 words and phrases, backed up by around 410,000 citations or usage examples. The book covers all anglophone countries and its timeline stretches from around 1500 up to the present day. For those who prefer something less academic, I published the Chambers Slang Dictionary, a single volume book, in 2008. Given that I am in no doubt that the future of reference publishing lies in digital form, it is my intention to place both these books on line in the near future.

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