The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Last night, I was filling in my census form. I was ticking along happily, writing neatly in the boxes, until I came to the section about your job. When asked, I generally say that I'm a lexicographer; it's a nice neat description of a specific job and well, it's fun to have an interesting job title! I'm fairly certainly that I put down 'lexicographer' as my job on the 2001 census, but this year, I hesitated. I actually don't do an awful lot of lexicography nowadays. I write stuff, I edit things, I do corpus research, a bit of reviewing, a bit of teaching and only really occasionally work on a dictionary project. And there's something about a census form that compelled me to be accurate, so I finally plumped for the rather dull, all-encompassing "educational writer":

It's always a tricky question - on foreign visa forms, I usually go for the safe "teacher" option to avoid confusion and difficult questions from immigration officials. I once resorted to "clerical assistant" for a car insurance policy because anything that referred to "writing" seemed to put you in the same, ultra-high risk category as journalists and the like. I tried to explain to the girl that I just sat at a desk tapping stuff into a computer, thus she put me down as a clerical assistant and came up with a nice, cheap quote!

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