Introduction

As a fuller, more in-depth about me, I thought I’d take you through my working life and explain exactly why I consider myself to be a language expert.

After I finished my Masters degree in French and German (with Italian) at Glasgow University, I joined HarperCollins bilingual dictionary department where I started my training as a lexicographer in the early 1990s.

My first main project was as part of a small team chosen to write an English framework using the newly developed Collins corpus, which later became the Bank of English. The idea was to describe English headwords, using real examples taken from the world’s first corpus of the English language, selecting, defining and exemplifying every sense we could find and then using this framework as the starting point for the English side of all Collins’ large European bilingual dictionaries going forward. For several years every day was spent on analysing the smallest nuances of every English word and defining it in the context of its frequency, usage, register and much more.

I was sent to Birmingham university to learn from the lexicographers working on Cobuild, the first corpus-based English learners’ dictionary, where I learnt how to best use the corpus and at the same time I was given the task of editing some of the smaller entries in their dictionary.

I spent the next decade working as one of the main lexicographers on the Collins Large range: the large Collins-Robert English French dictionary, the two-volume Comprehensive Collins-Robert English French dictionary, the Collins Concise English French dictionary, the large Collins English German dictionary, and the Concise English German dictionary. Occasionally my input was used on smaller projects such as the Easy Learning range which I helped to develop in the later 1990s, and the First Time range.

In 2009, I set up Complexli Limited with my husband and business partner, the Danish computing and linguistics specialist Thomas Widmann. For the next decade, I continued with my lexicographic and proofreading work both on HarperCollins titles and other dictionaries, for example the Orkney Dictionary in a more freelance capacity while branching out into other language fields. I spent some time rewriting Copenhagen University’s Humanities Department’s English Intranet site, I copy-edited and proofread Linguistics books for Aarhus University’s Linguistics department and I was used as a translator, copy-editor and proofreader by the Center for Børnesprog at SDU for several years.

In 2019, we decided Brexit Britain was not the obvious place for an outward-looking, international business like ours, so we moved to Denmark where Thomas is continuing his linguistics work as Seniorkonsulent at Dansk Sprognævn and I am putting my vast linguistic and lexicographic knowledge to good use.

Recently I have taken on copy-editing fictional novels written in English by non-natives, as well as checking questionnaires, grant applications and other academic texts.