Alyssa Ford, a former Greenspring colleague of mine, has this great Star Tribune profile of Anatoly Liberman, a University of Minnesota professor who is trying to finish what’s turned into a lifelong project: a comprehensive dictionary of some of the most misunderstood English words. For 24 years, Liberman has been working diligently on his book while still keeping a full teaching load. Once completed, scholars believe it will be a very important contribution to the field…once completed. At 74, he still as 10 more years of work left.
From Ford’s story: “Liberman, a professor of German, Scandinavian and Dutch at the University of Minnesota, remains upbeat that he will complete his magnum opus. “If I ‘survive my well-contented day,’ as Shakespeare put it, I will finish,” he said, noting that he eats hot cereal and a fresh grapefruit for breakfast, and walks the 45 minutes from his house to the U, often composing or translating poetry along the way in his native Russian. (He immigrated to Minnesota in 1975.)
“”My wife cooks fish because she says it’s better for me, but when I’m away at conferences, I have a beef steak and I find it very good,” he says, in the clipped British accent he cultivated by listening to hours and hours of BBC radio.
“As the professor labors on his dictionary in the solitude of his library carrel, his wordy colleagues from around the world are closely following the progress of the “Liberman Project.””