Barber, Katherine 1959-

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Barber, Katherine 1959-

PERSONAL:

Born 1959, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Education: University of Winnipeg, B.A., 1980; University of Ottawa, M.A., 1989. Hobbies and other interests: Ballet, choral singing, gardening, and cooking.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Ontario, Canada. Office—70 Wynford Dr., Don Mills, Ontario M3C 1J9, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, lexicographer, translator. University of Ottawa, former instructor and reviser, Bilingual Canadian Dictionary; Oxford University Press, editor, 1991—. Frequent appearances on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio and television.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Canadian Booksellers Association Editor of the Year Libris Award, 1999; University of Winnipeg Distinguished Alumni Award, 2000.

WRITINGS:

(Editor) Canadian Oxford Dictionary, Oxford University Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1998, 2nd edition, 2004.

(Editor) Canadian Oxford High School Dictionary, Oxford University Press (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2001.

(Editor-in-chief) Oxford Canadian Spelling, Oxford University Press (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2004.

(Editor) Canadian Oxford Dictionary of Current English, Oxford University Press (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2005.

Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to Do with Pigs: And Other Fascinating Facts from Canada's Word Lady, Oxford University Press (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2006, published as Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to Do with Pigs: And Other Fascinating Facts about the English Language, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Only in Canada You Say: A Treasury of Canadian Language, Oxford University Press (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

Katherine Barber is a Canadian lexicographer and editor at Oxford University Press Canada. She is the editor or editor-in-chief of numerous titles, including the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, the Canadian Oxford High School Dictionary, Oxford Canadian Spelling, and the Canadian Oxford Dictionary of Current English, among other research and reference volumes. Additionally, Barber is well known on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation where she has made numerous appearances as the Word Lady. She is also the author of two volumes of lexical oddities, Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to Do with Pigs: And Other Fascinating Facts from Canada's Word Lady (published in the United States as Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to Do with Pigs: And Other Fascinating Facts about the English Language) and the 2007 title Only in Canada You Say: A Treasury of Canadian Language.

Raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Barber took an interest in the English language from an early age, spurred on in this by her English teacher mother. At university, she studied English literature and French, and had early experience in dictionary building at the University of Ottawa where she worked on the project to develop a bilingual Canadian dictionary. In 1991, she was hired by Oxford University Press Canada to direct the compilation of its first Canadian English dictionary. Working with the eighth edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary, Barber and her team had to adapt the British English content to a Canadian one. Barber explained the difficulties of the project to Tim Kelly of Durhamregion.com: "We had to research the vocabulary of subjects that were particularly important to Canadians …: hockey, curling, figure skating, rodeo, logging, mining, fishing, flora, fauna, native peoples, etc. It took six of us five years to edit the British dictionary to reflect how English is used in Canada currently." Barber also noted to Kelly the process by which the editorial board determined whether or not a word warranted inclusion: "We have an ongoing reading program where people read books, magazines, newspapers, etc., looking for new words and usages; when they find one it gets keyed into a big database." Once a new word, whether slang or standard English, has fifteen different citations over a five-year period, the word is included in the dictionary. By the end of this process, only about four percent of the new dictionary's content was the same as the original Concise Oxford Dictionary. The resulting book, the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, proved a critical as well as commercial success. Over 100,000 copies of it were sold in its first year of publication. It had a second edition in 2004.

Reviewing the Canadian Oxford Dictionary in Library Journal, Ken Kister felt it had "a slight quantitative edge" over competing Canadian dictionaries, with over two thousand distinct Canadianisms in its 130,000 entries. A Booklist contributor thought it "is a well-researched, comprehensive study of Canadian English incorporating words and terminology from Canada's diverse ethnic cultures and its every region," and further termed it "a highly recommended reference tool." Quill & Quire reviewer Doris Cowan commented that Barber "deserves both credit and congratulations for the learned and witty Canadian Oxford Dictionary." Five thousand new words were added for the second edition of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, "a must" purchase for libraries, according to Booklist reviewer Terri Tomchyshyn. Similar praise greeted other reference works edited by Barber. Resource Links contributor Myra Junyk termed the Canadian Oxford Dictionary of Current English a work that "lives up to the excellence that is associated with the Oxford name." Junyk also pronounced the same work "an excellent reference book for students of all ages." Reviewing the Canadian Oxford High School Dictionary in Resource Links, Joan Marshall concluded, "Here is a dictionary in which our young people can see themselves, and on which they can count as a reliable, consistently clear, easy to use source that will both entertain and make schoolwork easier."

Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to Do with Pigs takes a lighter look at language and is "full of amusing and interesting word histories organized by season," according to Junyk, writing in Resource Links. Barber examines the etymology of words from "income tax" to "bachelor apartment" in this book which "will appeal to those students and adults who love the English language," as Junyk further noted. Barber also does the same more specifically for Canadian expressions in her book Only in Canada You Say, "a delightful addition to any Canadian teacher's library," according to John Borst writing in Tomorrow's Trust.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Advocate, July, 1999, Thomas S. Woods, review of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, p. 613.

Booklist, April 15, 1999, review of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, p. 1543; June 1, 2003, "Canadian Reference Sources," p. 1818; November 15, 2004, Terri Tomchyshyn, review of Canadian Oxford Dictionary, p. 613.

Canadian Law Libraries, spring, 1999, Ken Whiteway, review of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary.

Canadian Literature, spring, 2007, "Queer as Folk Etymology."

Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), March 3, 2006, Gale Zoe Garnett, review of Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to Do with Pigs: And Other Fascinating Facts about the English Language.

Library Journal, May 1, 1999, Ken Kister, review of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, p. 68.

National Post (Ontario, Canada), January 10, 2007, Craig Courtice, "Finally, a Word for Those People Whose Condition Never Really Changes."

NeWest Review, February 1, 1999, review of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, p. 35.

Quill & Quire, June, 1998, Doris Cowan, review of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, p. 40; February, 1999, review of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, p. 42.

Resource Links, December, 1998, review of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, p. 23; February, 2002, Joan Marshall, review of the Canadian Oxford High School Dictionary, p. 39; October, 2005, Myra Junyk, review of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary of Current English, p. 40; June, 2006, Myra Junyk, review of Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to Do with Pigs: And Other Fascinating Facts about the English Language, p. 31.

United Church Observer, September, 1998, review of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, p. 54.

ONLINE

Durhamregion.com,http://www.newsdurhamregion.com/ (October 11, 2007), Tim Kelly, "10 Questions with Katherine Barber."

Geist,http://www.geist.com/ (January 15, 2008), Michael Hayward, review of Only in Canada You Say: A Treasury of Canadian Language.

Marketwire,http://www.marketwire.com/ (December 8, 2005), "Oxford University Press Canada: Podcast Names Word of 2005."

Mount Allison University, Centre for Canadian Studies Web site,http://www.mta.ca/ (January 15, 2008), "Enrichment Funding Recipients: Katherine Barber."

Oxford University Press Web site,http://www.oup.com/ (January 15, 2008), "Meet Our Canadian Lexicographers: Katherine Barber, Editor-in-Chief."

Sources 58,http://www.sources.com/ (January 15, 2008), Dean Tudor, review of Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to Do with Pigs.

STC Manitoba,http://www.stcmanitoba.org/ (January 15, 2008).

Tomorrow's Trust,http://www.tomorrowstrust.ca/ December 20, 2007, John Borst, review of Only in Canada You Say.

TVO Web site,http://www.tvo.org/ (January 15, 2008), "Katherine Barber."

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