There is much to report here. We hear from Steve Kleinedler, President of the Society, Kory Stamper, Executive Secretary, Ed Finegan, editor of our journal, Michael Hancher, who is in charge of our social media presence, Rebecca Shapiro, who reports on MetroLex, and Cinda May, who describes the application for a Warren N. Cordell Research Fellowship. We also present the DSNA Professional Standards and Code of Conduct.
In my capacity as DSNA President, and on behalf of the Executive Board, I would like to thank and acknowledge members for their work with the Society.
Our journal Dictionaries has a lot to celebrate and a lot of people to thank and acknowledge. Under the guidance and direction of Ed Finegan (editor), along with the work of Traci Nagle (reviews editor), Sarah Ogilve and Orion Montoya (associate editors), the entire Editorial Advisory Board, and the Publications Committee led by Wendi Nichols, we not only have a handsome new design, but also a semiannual publication schedule. (Thanks and acknowledgement also goes to Wendi for her service in her tenure as reviews editor.)
Additionally, the process which was undertaken to have Dictionaries indexed by SCOPUS was extremely long and arduous: the driving force of Michael Adams along with Ed Finegan, Luanne von Schneidemesser, and Rebecca Shapiro for keeping track of and executing all of the necessary requirements that made this happen. (Thanks and acknowledgment also goes to Luanne for her service in her tenure as president, and to Rebecca for her service in her tenure as executive secretary.) The semiannual publication schedule and the indexing by SCOPUS are both crucial items for increasing journal revenue.
By the time this newsletter comes out, the completely overhauled website will mostly likely have been unveiled. For that, we have David Jost and the Publications Committee to thank for shepherding that process along. In her role as executive secretary, Kory Stamper has streamlined the membership database, which, on the new website, will allow members the opportunity to track their membership and edit their membership profiles quickly and easily. Kory has also set up accounts to automatically renew, again increasing Society revenue without requiring someone’s time to track down people each year. Thank you also to David Jost and Peter Chipman for their role in producing the newsletter.
For service on the current Board, thanks go to Lise Winer, Stefan Dollinger, Sarah Ogilve, and Peter Gilliver, as well as Brianne Hughes in her role as associate executive secretary. Special thanks goes to vice president/president-elect Elizabeth Knowles for both agreeing to take on the position as well as to provide me with incredibly helpful and incisive feedback; I am very grateful for her wisdom. Kory Stamper deserves a second round of thanks for her management of a vast array of Board minutiae. (Thanks and acknowledgment also goes to Peter Sokolowski and Ammon Shea for their past service on the Board and to Rebecca Shapiro for her service in her tenure as executive secretary. Luanne von Schneidemesser remains on the Board for one more term, but I’d like to thank her for her tenure as president and her guidance in preparing me for this role.)
Thank you to Michael Hancher and Orin Hargraves for administrating the Society’s social media.
Lastly, a proactive thank-you to Michael Adams for the work he will soon be undertaking with regard to the biennial conference in Bloomington in 2019, which will be held in conjunction with SHEL.
It is my hope that you all continue to benefit from your membership in the Society, and I look forward to reading your articles in future issues and seeing you in person at future conferences.
The work of the Executive Secretary is entirely behind the scenes, so much of what I’ve done in these first months of my term is (and should be) invisible to members of the Society—though you have no doubt already noticed a few changes to how we’ve traditionally done things.
In October, your Board voted to accept a Professional Standards and Code of Conduct for the DSNA (you can find it in this Newsletter). Such statements are increasingly commonplace among academic societies, and we’re starting to see vendors and conference sponsors require societies to have a Standards Document in place before they will do business with that society. We’re grateful for the help of our sister societies in the American Council of Learned Societies for their help in drafting this.
In July, the DSNA transitioned to an online membership management system used and recommended by many nonprofits and academic societies (WildApricot). The advantages of this new system are tremendous for both the Society and its members: it gives each member a login with which they can change their own contact information, update their academic interests, and easily renew their membership; it fully automates the renewal and membership application process, and even allows for DSNA members to set up an auto-renewal option through PayPal; and it makes communicating with our membership much, much simpler. It’s not without its quirks, but I’m grateful that the transition has been so seamless, and that each of you who have encountered the new system have taken to it with grace and good humor.
In the event that you haven’t yet logged in to the system, please do. One of the exciting things that this software offers is the ability to build a members-only section of our website, and your login to the membership system will be your login to the members-only section of the site, where we’ll no doubt have some form of the long-awaited membership directory, as well as members-only announcements and registrations (such as for DSNA21). If you don’t know what your login is, please email me at DSNAadmin@gmail.com, and I will get you set up.
My other primary duty is handling the DSNA finances. Last year was a transition year for the DSNA: our Publications Committee commissioned the creation of a new DSNA website to bring us out of the Geocities era, and our journal became a semiannual publication instead of an annual publication. Both of these very necessary moves required one-time costs for the website and new regular expenses with regard to the journal—with no immediate financial return in the same calendar year. We still had a budget surplus in 2017, but it was relatively small. Fortunately, your Board has taken steps to limit costs while increasing our revenue. Thanks to the increased frequency of publication as well as new indexing for the journal, we expect to see an increase in our revenue through Project MUSE and DeepDyve in the coming years, and we have increased the cost of Institutional memberships slightly to help offset the increased costs of publication. We also eliminated the paid Secretary Assistant position in July, and have been working to reduce mailing and printing costs by tightening up our journals claims procedure.
We are on a good financial footing for such a small society. There are still a few things you can do to help:
- Bring in new members! There’s not just a financial benefit for the Society, but the benefit of bringing in new voices, research, and growth to our field.
- If you have access to Project MUSE through an institution that you’re affiliated with, such as a school or library, access Dictionaries through your institution and not your DSNA membership. DSNA does not receive income from member logins, but we do receive income from institutional downloads.
- Set your contact preferences for electronic communication! Printing and postage costs can be surprisingly large for a society of our size. We’re grateful for all the members who have already opted in to the electronic newsletter and electronic communications.
Thanks for your continued support of the DSNA!
Ed Finegan, Editor of our journal:
News about Dictionaries
Dictionaries 38.2 was published in December and is available through Project MUSE. The issue contains two articles, “Dating Phonological Change on the Basis of Eighteenth-Century British English Dictionaries and Orthoepic Treatises” by Nicolas Trapateau and “Specialized Subject-Matter Labels: Exodistinctive versus Endoprofiling” by Danko Šipka, as well as two Reference Works in Progress pieces, Lynda Mugglestone’s “Words in War-Time Project” and David-Antoine Williams’s “Getting More Out of the Oxford English Dictionary (by Putting More In).” The issue also contains Antonette diPaolo Healey’s review of The Oxford Handbook of Lexicography, edited by Philip Durkin; Edward Finegan’s review of Garner’s Modern English Usage by Bryan A. Garner; Enid Pearsons’s review of The Word Detective: Searching for the Meaning of It All at the Oxford English Dictionary—A Memoir by John Simpson; and Sungok Hong’s review of Negotiating Languages: Urdu, Hindi, and the Definition of Modern South Asia by Walter Hakala.
Lay Lexicography in Dictionaries
Dictionaries is aiming to publish a forum on modern lay lexicography in a forthcoming issue. The scope of the topic remains flexible but could include treatments of collaboratively edited and crowd-sourced dictionaries; dictionaries of previously undocumented languages created by missionaries and others with little or no lexicographical training; popular booklets published to tout local varieties of languages and guides to local flora, fauna, and other features; and lay definitions in advertising and branding contexts. Keep an eye peeled for a proper call for papers in due course. Meanwhile, inquiries and suggestions about possible contributions from DSNA members and others interested in the topic can be sent to the journal’s editor: Finegan@USC.edu.
The nominating committee is now full: Michael Hancher (thru conference 2019), Connie Eble (thru conference 2019), Katy Isaacs (through conference 2021), and Sarah Ogilve (through conference 2021)
Until recently the MLA had an established Discussion Group for Lexicography. It was not always very active — I remember attending one MLA Lexicography session where none of the organizers or panelists showed up. Fortunately a half dozen audience members did show up (including the president of Merriam-Webster), who spent an enjoyable hour sharing their thoughts about lexicography. In later years Lisa Berglund and I managed to revive the Lex. discussion group, and we hosted some good sessions devoted to dictionaries. But then the MLA embarked on a complete redesign of its convention structure, and was about to subsume Lexicography into a new Theory and Method (TM) division called Book History and Print Culture — an objectionable move that Lisa and I objected to (traces survive at https://mla.hcommons.org/?s=lexicography), not entirely without effect. In the end the MLA agreed to keep the banner of Lexicography flying in the revised TM title: Book History, Print Cultures, Lexicography. Rebecca Shapiro was recently elected to a five-year term on the executive committee of that forum (https://www.mla.org/About-Us/Governance/Elections/Results-of-the-2017-MLA-Elections). I expect that she will sustain lexicography in future MLA conferences. This forum has an MLA Commons web site, with 275 subscribers, at https://mla.hcommons.org/groups/book-history-print-cultures-lexicography/ — which is probably the URL that we should link to. The most recent posting there is the CFP for the next convention, on a broad topic at least potentially lexicographic: Cut, Copy, Paste, Track. How do we study the expansion, contraction, and development of material texts and corpora? Papers sought that explore erasure, cancellation, deletion, supplementation, and textual change.
As of 2/3/2018
- Our Twitter feed, @, has 1,597 followers.
- Our Wikipedia entry, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dictionary_Society_of_North_America, could use some updating — preferably by several interested persons (Wilipedia prefers multiple authorship). And we should launch (and link) a separate Wikipedia page for Dictionaries, like that for IJL (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Journal_of_Lexicography).
The most recent installment of MetroLex, our periodic panel of talks and workshops on lexicography in NYC, was on Friday, September 29, 2017 at our now-regular location, Columbia University. We have been lucky to have found a home, with our genial host John McWhorter and his lively students, who faithfully come and share their knowledge, experiences, and interests at these events. Last fall, for example, we heard about how digitization can make an enormous difference in how information is pulled together and organized in the service of etymology and charting changes in meaning, by Angus Grieve-Smith of Columbia University and John Morse of Merriam-Webster.
Angus’s discussion was called “The Challenge of Representativeness in the 1971 Trésor de la Langue Française Dictionary” and dealt with his online project about the etymology used in nineteenth-century French theater: Digital Parisian Stage Corpus. What was fascinating was that a specific resource traced language change and could explain how small differences in one field of literature and the spoken word trace linguistic change in a broad manner. What also was interesting about the talk was that theater during that time was particularly known for its layered meanings, so it is quite a rich resource for semantic variations.
The second presentation, while different in topic, was similar in that it showed how technology in lexicographical research augments actual pairs of eyes. John’s talk was titled “The Metadata of an Offline Document: A Guided Tour through a Dictionary’s Work Galleys.” As with Angus’s talk, we were shown numerous slides—this time of galleys that had been worked on and adapted as a result of re-viewing and re-vising existing information. We saw clearly how changes were made in dictionaries based on hands-on research and work that combined old-school methods with new technologies.
After the talks concluded, the audience engaged in spirited discussion that reflected the pleasing nature of the topics as well as how well they combined audience interests in history, semantic and lexical change, and lexicography in unusual, granular ways. It is clear that there is no shortage of fascinating topics related to dictionaries and lexicographical matters that remind us that new technologies cannot replace older, more established ways of creating corpora. The robots still work for us.
This time, the presentations were made merrier by light refreshments provided by Oxford University Press. Previous talks have been refreshed by Cambridge University Press and American Heritage.
Our next presentations will be in April. Lynne Murphy will give us a clever, fun, and serious reminder that English is not just one language. Lynne Murphy was an inaugural National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar in 2016, and the resulting book, The Prodigal Tongue: the love-hate relationship between American and British English, is to be published by Penguin USA on 10 April. The book explores every facet of the British-American linguistic special relationship, including the differences in the role of dictionaries and language-reference publishing in the two countries. Here is a capsule review for Lynne’s book: https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-14-313110-6
We are also in tentative talks to hear Simon Tam of the musical group The Slants on winning their Supreme Court case and how they were able to name themselves something considered offensive by the U. S. Government. See a discussion here about disparagement and the First Amendment: http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/lee-v-tam/.
If anyone in the NY Metro area would like to help with the planning of the Slants talk—as we think it might be a large draw—please contact Rebecca Shapiro at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ben Zimmer at email@example.com.
Cinda May of the Special Collections Department at Indiana State has sent us this request for applications:
The Warren N. Cordell Research Fellowship is awarded each year to support scholarly research in the holdings of the Cordell Collection of Dictionaries in the fields of lexicography, lexicology, the history of English and other languages, or related areas. An award of $2,000.00 will be made to the selected fellow after completion of research in the collection. Applicants must submit a letter of inquiry, a selective vita, a written proposal describing the research project, and a detailed travel budget. Applications are accepted at any time during the calendar year. The letter of inquiry should include the desired starting and concluding dates of the residency. The proposal should indicate the materials or range of materials within the Cordell Collection that will be consulted. Send proposals to: Cinda A. May, Chairperson; Special Collections Department; Cunningham Memorial Library; 510 North 6 ½ Street; Terre Haute, IN 47809; or via email at Cinda.May@indstate.edu.
DSNA members have benefited from this fellowship over the years. See the article by David Vancil in the Fall 2016 Newsletter.
We include here a new document that has been promulgated by the Executive Board:
DSNA Professional Standards and Code of Conduct
Drafted August 1, 2017
Second Draft: September 26, 2017
Adopted by DSNA Executive Board: October 18, 2017
Professional Conduct and Collegiality
Freedom of expression and vigorous debate are crucial to scholarly exchange. DSNA strives to uphold these principles at all times, while strongly valuing mutual respect and providing an environment for exchange free of intimidation. We expect speakers and questioners at our meetings to demonstrate civility at all times, even in the midst of disagreement.
As a Society, we recognize that lexicography and lexicology are disciplines that have a complex, sometimes exclusionary, history. We welcome new scholarship that challenges our presuppositions regarding our field, while also upholding a commitment to excellence in scholarship and research, and integrity in our work. The Society’s membership exhibits substantial diversity in terms of profession, expertise, and interest. We encourage the input of all our members, regardless of formal qualification and experience, as we together advance the scholarly and public understanding of lexicography and lexicology.
Nondiscrimination and Anti‐Harassment Standards
The DSNA is dedicated to providing a safe, hospitable, and productive environment for everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, disability, physical appearance, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or employment status. Accordingly, the Society deplores all harassment and is sensitive to the harm suffered by persons who experience it. We expect those participating in DSNA meetings and events to treat others with the utmost respect, and not to engage in behavior that is intimidating, threatening, or harassing. This expectation applies to all involved, including but not limited to our speakers, staff, volunteers, attendees and guests.
The DSNA prohibits harassment on any grounds, including race, ethnicity, religion, disability, physical appearance, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or employment status. Harassment constitutes physical or verbal behavior that is not welcome by a member and/or that is personally intimidating, hostile, offensive, coercive or threatening. It may include such actions as: (1) verbal abuse; (2) degrading comments; (3) the display of offensive objects or images outside of a scholarly context (e.g., a presentation on the treatment of profanity in a dictionary would not be considered offensive whereas the use of profanity directed at a fellow member would be); (4) conduct or comments of a lewd or lascivious nature; and (5) other conduct that the targeted individual (or group of individuals) might reasonably find to be intimidating, hostile, offensive, coercive, or threatening.
Harassment and unprofessional conduct, in any form, prevent us from carrying out our mandate of fostering a spirit of collegiality and support. Such conduct may jeopardize a member’s participation in DSNA events or their membership. If an individual believes that she or he has experienced harassment as outlined above at the Society’s meetings or events, the individual is requested to report it immediately to a member of the Executive Board and/or the President of the Society.