Dictionaries John P. Broderick, Ph.D. University Professor of English and Applied Linguistics Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA 23529
Topics of Discussion • The Role of Dictionaries in English Speaking Cultures • Types of Information Contained in Dictionary Entries • Three English Dictionaries: Their Special Features and Uses
Dictionaries in English-Speaking Cultures • Prescriptive Tradition (Samuel Johnson - 1755) • Descriptive Tradition (Oxford English Dictionary – 1884 … ) • Merriam Webster II (2nd Ed., 1934) Perceived to be Prescriptive • Merriam Webster III (1961) Perceived to be Too Descriptive (even “Permissive”)
Types of Information Contained in Dictionary Entries (cf. TAW Ch. 9) • Spelling, Pronunciation, and Grammar • Etymology (Word History) • Definition(s) • Synonyms • Usage
Three English Dictionaries: Their Special Features and Uses(Cf. sample entries in TAW Ch. 9) • (Merriam) Webster’s Third New International Dictionary • The American Heritage Dictionary • The Oxford English Dictionary
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary • Largest Total Number of Words (600,000+) • Does a word “exist”? (Especially Technical Terms) • Spelling Authority (American and British) • Pronunciation Authority (American and British) • Extensive and Detailed Synonym Passages (= a Thesaurus)
The American Heritage Dictionary • Same Information as Webster’s III (Though Less Detailed) Plus . . . • Definitions in Frequency Order • Special Etymology Structure (See example in TAW Ch. 9.) • No Abbreviations (Readable) • Photographs • Informed and Practical Usage Information • First to Include Vulgar Words and Meanings
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED)[A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles] Purposes: • Record every word that could be found in English from about the year 1000. • Exhibit the history of each word: all pronunciations, spellings, uses, and meanings – past and present. • Include at least one quotation per century for each meaning of each word.
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED)[A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles] Some History . . . • 1857: Furnivall: Idea; Trench Paper to Philological Society: “On Some Deficiencies in our English Dictionaries” • 1859: 1st Editor, Coleridge, appointed. • 1861: 1st Editor, Coleridge, dies. • 1862: 2nd Editor, Furnivall (Too Busy…)
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED)[A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles] Some History . . . • 1879: 3rd Editor James Murray (Recruits 8,000 Readers) • 1884: First Half of Letter A Published • 1915: Murray dies (3 more editors …)
The Final 3 Editors of OED1: Editor of the 4-Volume Supplement:
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED)[A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles] Some History . . . • 1929: Last Half of Letter W Published (= 12 Vols.) • 1933: 1 Vol. (A-Z) Supplement (Total = 13 Vols.) • 1972 to 1986: 4 Vols. (A-Z) Supplement • 1989: 2nd Edition 20 Vols. (A-Z) • 1990s: Electronic Versions
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED)[A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles] Some Anecdotes . . . • James Murray’s Education • James Murray’s “Presence” • James Murray’s Family • James Murray at Work • James Murray and Women Scholars • James Murray and Dr. Minor
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED)[A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles] Its special uses . . . • Birth, death, and development of words • Meanings in chronological order • Meanings of words in literature at time of writing • Assorted other things . . .
Corresponding Entry from On-line OED2 • abrupt (brpt) , v. f. prec. , or on analogy of vbs. so formed. Cf. cor-rupt , dis-rupt . To break off, sever; to interrupt suddenly. • 1643 Sir T. Browne Relig. Med. (1656) i. §13 Buzzing thy praises which shal never die, Till death abrupts them. 1646 Sir T. Browne Pseud. Ep. 323 The effects of whose activity are not precipitously abrupted, but gradually proceed to their cessations. 1682 Sir T. Browne Chr. Morals (1756) 100 The insecurity of their enjoyments abrupteth our tranquillities. 1819 Blackw. Mag. V. 737/2 This gas obtains in greatest abundance in the vicinity of dykes which abrupt the coal. 1949 M. Innes Journeying Boy xi. 130 But to abrupt his journey in a strange town..was a procedure..unnecessarily drastic. 1958 Observer 29 June 15/6 The film version of `The Brothers Karamazov'..does not deliberately distort the novel or abrupt it.