Start planning your trip to DSNA 2013!! The website for our 19th biennial meeting is now available here, with information about registration and lodging, as well as the call for papers. We look forward to seeing you next May!
The New York Times is hosting a debate between DSNA member Bryan A. Garner (author of Garner's Modern American Usage) and journalist Robert Lane Greene (author of You are What You Speak). Among the questions they discuss: "how can you tell the difference between a sound rule of English and a made-up shibboleth? Where do good rules come from, and how do bad ones catch on?"
Here's a draft of the table of contents for this year's volume of Dictionaries: The Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America. The journal has just gone to the printers and will be in the mailboxes of members in a couple of months. It also will be available on Project Muse. The Editor of Dictionaries is Elizabeth Knowles and the Book Review Editor is Wendalyn Nichols.
Table of Contents
“Academic Hooliganism” or “False Gold”?: The Reception of Baudouin de Courtenay’s Russian Dictionary by Donna M. T. Cr. Farina and George Durman
Elisha Coles in Context by John Considine
Cullers of Words: Writing the Dictionary of Newfoundland English by Jeff A. Webb
Issues and Challenges for a Modern English-Arabic Dictionary by Radia Benzehra
That Most Ill-Defined Book: Problems with Labeling the Dictionary in Educated Writing by Ammon Shea
“Her Word had no Weight”: Jane Austen as a lexical test case for OED by R. M. McConchie
Reference Works in Progress
Dawgspeak!: The Slanguage Dictionary of the University of Georgia by Don R. McCreary
DARE—On Beyond Zydeco by George H. Goebel
Revising The Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles: A Progress Report, 2006—(April 2012) by Stefan Dollinger, Laurel Brinton, and Margery Fee
A grammar-driven bilingual digital dictionary for Cayuga (Iroquoian) by Carrie Dyck and Ranjeet Kumar
Boswell’s Scottish Dictionary Update by Susan Rennie
Green’s Dictionary of Slang by Jonathon Green; reviewed by Michael Adams
Dictionary of American Regional English, Volume V: Sl–Z, edited by Joan Houston Hall; reviewed by Frank Abate
Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage, Third Edition by Bryan A. Garner; reviewed by James E. Clapp
“Cunning passages, contrived corridors”: Unexpected essays in the history of lexicography by Michael Adams; reviewed by Edward Finegan
Lawtalk: The Unknown Stories Behind Familiar Legal Expressions by James E. Clapp; reviewed by Rebecca Shapiro
From Elvish to Klingon: Exploring Invented Languages, edited by Michael Adams; reviewed by Yin Yin Lu
Here's a story from The New York Times reporting that the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago has completed a forty-year project of compiling a dictionary of Demotic, the language and cursive script of the common people of Ancient Egypt. Demotic is one of the three languages inscribed on the Rosetta Stone. You can access the dictionary itself at the Oriental Institute's website here. It's been a busy year or two for the lexicographers at the Oriental Institute--last summer this blog reported on their completion of the Assyrian Dictionary.
This week the blogosphere is responding with bemused appreciation to the initial results of CollinsDictionary.com's crowd-sourcing. Taking a tip from the original Oxford English Dictionary, which more than a century ago recruited contributions from word-enthusiasts, Collins editors invited the public to submit words for review and possible inclusion. In the first two months, more than 4,400 words were proposed, according to a press release. Editors selected 86.
Browsing the list of these new words, I was struck by the format for each entry that CollinsDictionary.com is employing. Since at least the 18th century, a dictionary entry typically has included the word to be defined, the part of speech, labels, and a definition. Sometimes entries offer a guide to pronunciation, etymology, synonyms, and an example of usage (in the case of historical dictionaries, evidence of when, where and how the word was used in the past).
CollinsDictionary.com entries for the words on the crowd-sourced list supply a definition, part of speech, and some labels... plus a "Sponsored Links" section, and a "Comment" section (which includes the username of the person who proposed the word). In many cases, the Links and Comment sections are blank. I guess I am relieved that there is no Sponsored Link for "mummy porn" or "geekism,", but still, the blank space creates an oddly forlorn effect, as if a word doesn't have any friends.
Maybe what makes Sponsored words popular is that they are concrete--or can be perceived as such. Look up the definition of "shabby chic" and Google will invite you to check out Shabby Chic decor, Shabby Chic painted furniture and (one shudders to think) Shabby Chic mattresses. Wondering what "K-pop" means, you find your attention directed to K-pop radio and Toyota Camrys.
Is this lexicographical shopping list so much different from Samuel Johnson's listing the word-sponsors, as it were, in his abridged Dictionary of the English Language? After all, look up a word there and you will see, after the definition, a list of the names who brought it to you: