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The Oh No! Dictionary

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

The Oh No! Dictionary

Written by Willem Boshoff

An artist’s book in a limited edition of 100, each copy signed by the artist.

Introduction by Carrol Clarkson

Proofread by Carrol Clarkson and Bronwyn Law-Viljoen

Published by the Ampersand Foundation

Printed by Keyprint cc in February 2022

In her introduction to The Oh No! Dictionary, Carrol Clarkson writes:

"All the headwords to the Oh NO! Dictionary can be found in "respectable English dictionaries" Willem Boshoff assures us, "no words are invented" and all the words "are, or were, in real use."

"...Yet it is worth noting that many of the entries in the Oh No! can also be found in other dictionary works: The Blind Alphabet (1995 ongoing), Garden of Words 1 and 11 (1997 and 1999) Kring van Kennis (Circle of Knowledge, 2000), and Index of B(R)reachings (2000) - to name some. These are sculpture or installation dictionaries that bring the viewer-reader [the unpredictability is pivotal] to the site of the installation. The Oh No! Dictionary picks up - and draws together as printed matter - material from these and other dictionary-works, to the extent that the book can be read as a distinctive textual repository of some of Boshoff's signature preoccupations: a disruption of inherited linguistic hierarchies; a sudden shift in the ground of interlocutory competencies and exclusions; an exploration in words and the implacable oscillations between concept and precept, thought and thing, sense and nonsense.

Clarkson, C. The Oh No! Dictionary, The Ampersand Foundation, 2022, p 1.

Professor Carrol Clarkson is currently professor and chair of the English Department of the University of the Western Cape. Formerly she was chair of Modern English Literature at the University of Amsterdam and has also held positions at the University of Cape Town, the University of Johannesburg and the University of the Witwatersrand.

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