John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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Today's Forgotten English

I haven't been posting these as much 'cause this year's calendar has been rather dull so far. But this is a good one...

Worship of words; unreasonable regard for words or for verbal truth. ... Hence logomaniac, one who is insanely interested in words.
--Sir James Murray's New English Dictionary, 1908

On this date in 1872, William Minor, an expatriate American physician, murdered a London brewery worker whom he mistakenly believed was stalking him. Minor, who had been traumatized by Civil War duty a decade earlier and had become increasingly burdened by paranoia, was committed for life to Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. In 1878, after reading about the project then under way to compile the New English Dictionary (later the Oxford English Dictionary), he began submitting literary citations to its editor, James Murray. Over time, he compiled more than 12,000 items that were used in the dictionary, many from his own collection. Murray was unaware of Minor's mental condition for nearly twenty years because he did not mention it in his letters and because he had, without explanation, refused the venerable wordsmith's invitations to visit Oxford. When Murray finally came to Broadmoor in 1896, he at first took the warden to be Dr. Minor.

As Seneca said, "There is no genius without a little insanity..."

-The Gneech
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