Minister demands correction over Oxford dictionary ding-dong


By Rory Reynolds

A GOVERNMENT secretary is to demand a change to a new edition of the Oxford English dictionary after it listed Alexander Graham Bell as an American.

Education minister Mike Russell has said he will be writing to the title’s publisher after one of their books stated that the famous Scots figure was an “American scientist and inventor of the telephone”.

Russell said that future editions of the Oxford School Dictionary of Word Origins, which is used in schools across the UK, should be corrected.

He said: “I will be writing to the publishers to ask that they ensure that this error is corrected in future editions.

“As a famous Scottish inventor, young people throughout Scotland will be well aware of Alexander Graham Bell”

The error comes under the entry for the word “decibel”, part of which comes from the inventor’s name.


Bell was born in Edinburgh in 1847, and later studied at the city’s university, before moving to Canada in 1870.

He later moved to the US, where he became a citizen in 1882.

The University of Edinburgh named one of the buildings on their campus after Bell, who enrolled as a student there in 1866.

The spokeswoman for the university said that bell is widely believed to be among the greatest Scots inventors, as well as being one of their most respected alumni.

She said: “We are proud to count Alexander Graham Bell among the many Edinburgh graduates who have gone on to make a positive impact on the wider world.”

A spokeswoman for Oxford University Press said the firm would consider Russell’s request for a correction.

Under fire

Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone in 1876 before setting up the Bell Telephone Company the following year.

His invention led him to be awarded with a number of honours, including the Royal Society of Arts’ Albert Medal, and the Legion d’Honneur from the French government.

Last week the Disney Corporation came under fire for implying that Bell was American at the Epcot theme part in Florida.

The park had also claimed that the inventor of penicillin, Ayrshire-born Alexander Fleming, was English and neglected to mention John Logie Baird in connection with the invention of the television.

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