A Life in Lexicography Elizabeth Knowles Fall 2021

A Life in Lexicography A colleague of mine, when we were about to advertise a dictionary post, opined that we should regard with some reserve any applicant who declared that they had always wanted to be a lexicographer, since this was not a natural thing to want to be. While I think this might be rather a severe judgement, it does in my experience hold one grain of truth: many people I have known (and I am among them) have come into lexicography sideways. We did not set out with that intention—but, having discovered it, it turned out to be something, at least in my case, that felt a perfect fit with what I wanted to do. Looking back now I can see that, almost accidentally, I made choices which brought me into the world of dictionaries. I chose to read English at the University of Exeter, which at the time was offering a very traditional curriculum. Everyone had a year of...
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DSNA Fall 2021

Dictionary Society of North America President’s Report, 2019–21 In preparation for writing this, I have been struck again by what extraordinary changes the last two years have seen. I would like to use this report to review what seem to me to have been key points, as well as taking the opportunity to express my thanks for some of the skilled support so generously given. It does of course represent a personal view, and inevitably there will be other things I could have mentioned, but I hope you will be generous to any sins of omission committed in the interests of keeping extent within reasonable grounds (which any lexicographer feels bound to do). There are of course some things which have been a constant, above all the support and wisdom offered by DSNA colleagues. I have been reminded anew of just how much in the last two years I have relied on the skill and experience of Ed Finegan, our Vice-President and President...
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DSNA Conference 23 Program

DSNA 23: Fitness of Our Dictionaries and Lexicography to 21st-Century Realities Held virtually on June 4, 202110:00 am – 3:30pm North American Eastern Time(GMT 15:00 – 20:30) PROGRAM (UPDATED 6/1/21) Introduction: Michael Adams (former President, DSNA) Keynote:  Dictionaries as Authorities: Can They Be and Should They? Kory Stamper and Bryan GarnerModerator: Lane Greene (The Economist) Panels 1. How global and national events affect modern lexicographyModerator: Ben Zimmer (Wall Street Journal)Online dictionaries are able to adapt speedily to rapid changes in vocabulary and usage. As an example, Covid-19 and the pandemic have spawned a range of new words and new applications for existing words, such as contact tracing, community spread, flatten the curve, PPE, social distancing, and Covid-19 itself. Who monitors these and similar developments for dictionaries? Who writes or revises the definitions? How do lexicographers keep up with global and national changes in vocabulary and word meanings? How does the proliferation of new vocabulary affect established lexicographical approaches? Stefan Fatsis: “34 Days: Inside Merriam-Webster’s Emergency Coronavirus Update”Wendalyn Nichols and Lewis C. Lawyer: “Identifying Emergent Meanings...
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Table of Contents Fall 2021

Conferences: the program of our 2021 remote conference and Lise Winer’s list of other meetings DSNA: Reports by Elizabeth Knowles, Kory Stamper, Lindsay Rose Lee, report on elections, and report on Globalex by Orin Hargraves Elizabeth Knowles: A Life in Lexicography In Memoriam Farewell: Retirement of the Editor Collection by David Vancil Dictionaries by Janet DeCesaris History by Michael Adams State of Lexicography by Orin Hargraves Quotations: Nest of Singing Birds by Elizabeth Knowles Publication Information ...
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Publication Information Spring 2021

The DSNA Newsletter is usually published twice a year, in the spring and fall. Editor is David Jost. Associate Editor is Peter Chipman. Member news items can be sent to dsna.membernews@gmail.com. Other Newsletter correspondence, such as articles for publication, should be directed to the editor at dajebj@gmail.com. Send correspondence re membership, etc. to Kory Stamper, Executive Secretary, DSNAPO Box 537Collingswood, NJ 08108-0537 This issue:  Vol. 45 No. 1 (2021) Cumulative issue #91 ...
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Quotations Elizabeth Knowles Spring 2021

Ships that Pass in the Night Elizabeth Knowles It is a common experience for a researcher, pursuing a particular line, to come across a tempting side path; one of the pleasures of retirement is that it is purely a personal choice as to whether or not you break off to pursue it. This happened to me recently, when I was looking for earlier general references to dictionaries of quotations. One of those I found was an item in the “Queries” column of New York Times of January 28, 1905 which immediately piqued my interest. The question turned on the origin of a book title. As the correspondent (a George Ashby of Yonkers) put it: “When Miss Harraden’s ‘Ships that Pass in the Night’ was published, it was said of a certain dictionary of quotations at the time that it was the only one that gave this phrase and its author’s name.” He wanted the answer to two questions. “Who was the author,...
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State of Lexicography Orin Hargraves Spring 2021

Defining Moments Orin Hargraves I wrote my first definition for money in 1991. Here it is now 2021! Some things have changed, some have stayed the same during those 30 years. 1991-95: Paper Gives Way to Pixels My first paid lexicography gig was on the Longman Dictionary of English Language and Culture. It was a first-edition learner’s dictionary, largely already written by British lexicographers. Four UK-resident Americans were recruited for the job, which was to add American content and Americanize the standing definitions enough so that the book could be marketed to learners of American English. None of us had or were expected to have a computer at home, and the internet was a novelty we’d barely heard of. Batches of work came to us in the mail, printed on A4 sheets. Along with each batch came a packet of paper-clipped index cards, which represented the cross-references to other entries in the dictionary from that batch. We edited the British definitions (adding American senses where...
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History Michael Adams Spring 2021

The Hart Chart Michael Adams Histories of lexicography usually focus on influential dictionaries and those who made them. Rarely do we focus on historical users of dictionaries or the public reception of dictionaries. One can look at such things systematically, of course, coding mentions of dictionaries in the press, for instance, and characterizing reception on the basis of such data. One can also look at individual users and see how they figure in the history of lexicography but also, since users are citizens passing through social activity besides lexicography, how the use and reception of dictionaries resonates in larger historical and cultural domains. Laurance H. Hart was, as his obituary in The Central New Jersey Home News (November 28, 1964) observed, “one of [Metuchen, New Jersey’s] most colorful citizens.” With decades of further hindsight, that seems an understatement. A civil engineer with a degree from The Ohio State University, Hart had helped construct and maintain the New York State Barge Canal, but he...
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Education Anne Curzan Spring 2021

Looking to Dictionaries for Questions as Much as Answers Anne Curzan University of Michigan Dictionaries have immense pedagogical power: They open up some of the most fundamental questions we as instructors often want to address about language authority, language change (semantic change as well as phonological), linguistic diversity, morphology, and the social valences and power of words. I have never had the opportunity to teach an entire course on dictionaries, but they feature prominently in the first few classes in both my introductory English linguistics course and my History of English course. Students express initial surprise to see dictionaries on the syllabus. What in the world could be interesting enough about dictionaries to merit multiple class days? But once we get started, the questions cascade over each other: How does a new word get into the dictionary? How often do words get taken out? Why isn’t my pronunciation of a word in the dictionary? How does one become a dictionary editor? What do you...
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Book Preservation Michael Hancher Spring 2021

Michael Hancher has been hard at work on the preservation of books including dictionaries, as can be seen from his following text: https://hcommons.org/deposits/item/hc:33963/ There's a link there to the MLA session description (which included remarks by Lisa Berglund, about the distinctive features of annotated dictionaries): https://mla.confex.com/mla/2021/meetingapp.cgi/Session/8967 The prospectus for the session is here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/121xheSfF63MuZYnxQRQMp_QNzB3ahbRE/view William Frederick Poole, sometime president of the American Library Association and the American Historical Association, was librarian of the Newberry Library in Chicago when he inveighed in 1893 against a new vogue to discard old books from libraries, citing neglected dictionaries as an example: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiug.30112051214614&view=1up&seq=34&q1=dictionaries I document that vogue (the so-called "Quincy plan" -- which actually makes sense for community libraries, though not research libraries), though not this particular passage, on pp. 13-18 of the bibliography. Dictionaries have not been much singled out in the age-old debate about the necessity and hazards of weeding books, but they are liable to the same fate as old encyclopedias and textbooks. "Dr. Winsor" (Justin Winsor, Harvard's librarian)...
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