Hargraves, Orin (Knight) 1953-

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HARGRAVES, Orin (Knight) 1953-

PERSONAL: Born September 14, 1953, in Denver, CO; son of Orin K. and Barbara (Magness) Hargraves. Education: University of Chicago, B.A., 1977. Religion: Theravada Buddhist.

ADDRESSES: Home—5130 Band Hall Hill Rd., Westminster, MD 21158-1406. Agent—c/o Oxford University Press, 198 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Writer, editor, and lexicographer. International Meditation Center, director.


Culture Shock! Morocco, Graphic Arts Center Publishing (Portland, OR), 1995, revised edition, 2001.

London at Your Door, Graphic Arts Center Publishing (Portland, OR), 1997, revised edition, 2001.

Chicago at Your Door, Graphic Arts Center Publishing (Portland, OR), 1999.

Mighty Fine Words and Smashing Expressions: Making Sense of Transatlantic English, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Contributor to numerous dictionaries and other reference books, including Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms, Oxford American College Dictionary, Berkley Dictionary of New Works, Macmillan English Dictionary, Oxford Essential Dictionary of the U.S. Military, and Oxford Essential Business and Office Dictionary.

SIDELIGHTS: A guidebook author and lexicographer, Orin Hargraves has been a freelance writer and editor for more than a decade, working on everything from travel guides for Morocco to standardized dictionaries to a guide to the differences between American and British English. "Defining words and editing definitions, along with all the other tasks of dictionary-making, is what I do best," Hargraves said on his Web page at Publishers Marketplace, pointing out that he also has a novel ready for publication.

Author of the guidebook Culture Shock! Morocco, Hargraves gained an intimate knowledge of the country and the Arabic language while working as an education volunteer with the Peace Corps from 1980 to 1982. On the Peace Corps Web site, he recounts his elation when a neighbor woman told him to "tell Aisha to put the goats in the shed, it's going to rain." Why his sudden enthusiasm over a simple command? He explains, "Because she said it in Arabic, not in French. Because she didn't slow down or dress it up for speaking to a foreigner."

In 2002, Hargraves's guide to English and American English, Mighty Fine Words and Smashing Expressions: Making Sense of Transatlantic English, was published. A part-time inhabitant of England as well as the United States, Hargraves sets out to help both Americans and the English navigate the differences between English and its slang as it is used in England and the United States. He includes a historical introduction and makes it clear that he likes the nonuniformity of how the language is used across the ocean, noting that native speakers in each country would be enriched by an understanding of the other. Subsequent chapters include looks at lexicography and syntax. Most of the book is devoted to variations between dialects, and is organized by subject and theme, such as differences in language in business, education, and social life.

Writing in Library Journal, Rebecca Bollen thought that the guide is a "well-organized" tool for comparing each country's brand of English. Bollen noted, however, that from a linguistic standpoint, the author essentially dismisses regional English dialects from countries such as Australia and Canada. "Nevertheless, on what could have been a rather dry and technical subject, Hargraves has written a very readable book," she added, calling it "entertaining" and "informative." On World Wide Words, a Web page that explores the international English language from a British viewpoint, Michael Quinion also recommended the book, noting that Hargraves "has produced a book that will be a great help to speakers of either regional form who are trying to resolve differences of language." He also called attention to the all-important chapter titled "Things You Don't Say," which lists the differences in language that could get a person not only misunderstood but in definite trouble. For example, fag is a British term for cigarette but is a derogatory and offensive word for homosexuals in the United States. Quinion also noted, "The set of chapter headings, though it gives an impression of the scope of the book, hardly does justice to its compendious nature."



Choice, May, 2003, M. H. Loe, review of Mighty FineWords and Smashing Expressions: Making Sense of Transatlantic English, p. 1546.

Library Journal, October 15, 2002, Rebecca Bollen, review of Mighty Fine Words and Smashing Expressions, p. 72.


Peace Corps Web site,http://www.peacecorps.gov/ (June 3, 2003), Orin Hargraves, "Peace Corps Volunteer Story, Neighbors."

Publishers Marketplace,http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/ (May 6, 2003), "Orin Hargraves."

World Wide Words,http://www.worldwidewords.org/ (June 3, 2003), Michael Quinion, review of Mighty Fine Words and Smashing Expressions.