The first Oxford English Dictionary was out in 1884. But now English Dictionaries face a threat from digitisation. The publishers have already indicated that they will not go for another print edition due to falling sales with the rise of digitisation. With internet making print dictionaries redundant, Oxford University Press is now focusing on bilingual dictionaries and mobile applications to maintain its presence in the market. “Though our print dictionaries continue to sell in India but there has been a slowdown in demand.
However, the demand for our bilingual dictionaries has been growing at the rate of 20-25 per cent per year,” Ranjan Kaul, Managing Director of Oxford University Press India, told PTI in kolkata.
The publishers of the the world’s most definitive work on English already have bilingual dictionaries in Hindi, Marathi, Odia, Kannada, Gujarati and Telugu while their Bengali one was launched here recently.
“We are now trying to add more Indian languages on the list like Malayalam, Punjabi, Assamese, etc.,as the aspiration to learn English is growing in smaller towns and cities all over the country,” Kaul said.
All these dictionaries are characterised by the Oxford hallmark of authoritative information, detailed attention to grammar and usage besides incorporating ‘Indian English’. Kaul said the new dictionaries are meant as a self-learning tool to learn English for various purposes including better employment opportunities.
“It is not only for finding the meaning of a word but also for improving your language skills for everyday use,” he said, adding that they are focusing on the usage of words in practical life.
Admitting that digitisation has taken a toll on the sale of its classic English dictionaries in metros, Kaul said that to stay in sync with the market they are planning to launch various applications for mobile devices including tablets.
“We are trying to understand what type of digital format will work here in India with various devices. After that our bilingual works can also be made available in digital format,” the publisher said.