June 21, 2024

“Woke,” “Hip” And More To Be Highlighted In Oxford Dictionary Of African American English

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In 2025, the Oxford University Press will be publishing a dictionary to honor the history and significance of African-American language.

African-American language will be recognized by Oxford University Press in 2025. In a report from The New York Times, Henry Louis Gates Jr. will serve as the editor-in-chief of a new dictionary highlighting African American English. The three-year project will include “quotations taken from real examples of language in use,” along with slang terms including “hip,” “woke,” and “cool.” Oxford English Dictionary notations will also break down meaning, pronunciation, spelling, usage and history of each word.

“This will serve to acknowledge the contributions of African-American writers, thinkers, and artists, as well as everyday African Americans, to the evolution of the English lexicon,” Oxford University Press said in a press release. “Evidence will be gathered from such diverse sources as novels, academic research papers, newspapers and magazines, song lyrics, recipes, social media and more.”

Gates, who is director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, will oversee a team of researchers for the project from University of Oxford and Harvard University. The team will also crowd-source contributions, with the project being funded by grants from the Mellon and Wagner Foundations.

“Every speaker of American English borrows heavily from words invented by African Americans, whether they know it or not,” Gates said. “The editing of the Oxford Dictionary of African American English will realize a dream I’ve nurtured since I first studied the pages of Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language: to research and compile fully and systematically the richness of African American English.”



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