Dictionaries: Something to look forward to in 2017

After 37 years as an annual publication, Dictionaries is moving to two issues a year. To trumpet the move we’ll introduce a new cover design and logo and a modern, more readable inside page.

What will two issues a year mean to you? Well, quite a bit—but if an increase in dues was the first thing that entered your mind, dispel the thought. But here’s what you can expect. Our annual has varied in size, over the past five years averaging about 270 pages per issue, and while an increase in page numbers would be welcome, we aren’t aiming to double the number published in a year. We will likely increase gradually, but even if page count remains steady, publishing two numbers a year delivers real advantages. For one thing, it’s a way for DSNA and its members to greet one another each spring and fall with both a journal and a newsletter. In addition, with the journal now accessible via Project MUSE, the scholarship that DSNA sponsors will gain greater recognition among lexicographers and students of lexicography around the world. Some potential contributors to the journal have understandably preferred submitting their work to journals with a shorter lag time than an annual affords. Especially for younger scholars and in an age of instant communication through social media, a shorter span between submission and publication will prove attractive. Beyond that, perhaps you know that some abstracting services admit a journal to their ranks only when the number of citations to the journal in other journals surpasses a benchmark and that the window for those citations can be a mere three years. Whether the month of publication is January or December, that year counts as the first of the three. For Dictionaries, published late in the year, a three-year window is effectively reduced to two, and that has hurt us. As you may not know, inclusion on the roster of certain abstracting services enhances royalties the Society receives from Project MUSE in two ways: by a likely increase in the number of downloads resulting from greater exposure and by an uptick in the royalty rate simply for having secured a place on the roster of those services. A further note in this regard: citations within Dictionaries to other journals will bolster their count in applications to the abstracting rosters.

Dictionaries has had six editors over the years, and in more recent years an associate editor or reviews editor. For several years now, Wendalyn Nichols of Cambridge University Press has served as our reviews editor and has also chaired the Society’s publications committee. Wendi has asked to step away from her responsibility as reviews editor following publication of the spring issue this year. Starting with the fall issue, then, Traci Nagle of Indiana University has agreed—with enthusiasm—to become the journal’s reviews editor. You are likely acquainted with Traci from her presentations at our biennial meetings and her contributions to the journal, including an article in the most recent issue. Several associate editors will also be named this spring, representing the character of current trends in lexicography and its study worldwide —and helping to ensure smooth transitions from editor to editor over time.

What else might it mean for the Society to publish two numbers of the journal each year? Well, as editor, I hope it means that each of us will think first of Dictionaries as a desirable venue for scholarship and will encourage colleagues and students to think of Dictionaries when their research warrants it. At conferences and professional meetings, I urge you to make note of presentations that would make articles of interest and value to readers of our journal and to say so to presenters—and to me for follow-up.

We are ready for the move to two numbers per year. Still, after decades of publishing an annual, the Society’s success in this venture will depend on generous effort by its members. I ask all readers of the Newsletter to consider how you can contribute to the success of the journal—renew your membership, suggest or give a subscription, suggest books to be reviewed, contribute your work and encourage others to contribute theirs. DSNA members take pride in publishing the most senior lexicographical journal in the world and in the quality of its contents. Like editors before me, I’m thankful for members’ generosity, offered in support of the journal in so many ways. I know members will welcome news of this move as supportively as the publications committee and the executive board feel in taking this step forward. Let this development be a hallmark of the Society’s energy and vitality in 2017.

(Ed Finegan, Editor, Dictionaries)


As of this issue, the Newsletter appears in a new format, that is, as part of what will become the Society’s new website. The Newsletter will be located beneath a tab, Newsletter Issues, alternating in content between the Spring and Fall issues yearly. Older volumes will stay up by date. A table of contents will allow you to move quickly through the various sections. The content will continue to be similar to what it is now but the new format will presumably make it possible to add other types of content, such as audio and video.

Note that the website of which it is part is under construction. The final version, which we hope to complete later this year, will look something like this. Feel free to explore it but note that some of the content may be out of date and also that changes will yet be made, some perhaps in response to your suggestions.

(David Jost, Editor, Newsletter)

Memorial to J. Edward Gates

Ed Gates, the founder of the DSNA, died on December 24, 2015. Remembrances were published in the Spring 2016 issue of the Newsletter, but more can and needs to be said about someone who has meant so much to the Society. This issue is dedicated to him and contains four more remembrances of him. They begin with a statement by our current president, Luanne von Schneidemesser, continue with statements by colleagues of his at Indiana State University, and close with his own words.

Ed Gates and David Jost in 2001 at Ann Arbor, Michigan

Edward Gates, Founder of DSNA

Ed Gates, the force behind the founding of the DSNA, died on Christmas Eve, 2015, as reported in the Spring 2016 Newsletter.  He did not manage to write a history of the Society as he long wanted to do (see Victoria Neufeldt’s DSNA Fellows Profile “J. Edward Gates: Living History” in the DSNA Newsletter of Spring 2006), since he was suffering from the effects of a stroke in the last few years of his life.  I’m sure if he had, he would have modestly downplayed his important role in the founding and support of the Society throughout its existence.  Michael Adams’s excellent article, “The Dictionary Society of North America: A History of the Early Years (Part I)” relates most completely all the work Ed did in undertaking to develop an interest in lexicography and found the Society.  If you as a member of DSNA have not yet read this history and Ed’s role, you can read it in your 2014 volume of DSNA’s journal Dictionaries, pp. 1-35.

I came somewhat late to the DSNA.  I started working for the Dictionary of American Regional English in 1978, when still a grad student. I don’t recall what year I joined DSNA, probably around 1985; I soon became a life member.  The first conference I attended was at Case Western Reserve University in 1995.  I wanted to see what such meetings were like, how they were run, since I knew that DARE and UW-Madison were to host the meeting in 1997.  In Cleveland I met Ed and Marion; he was Vice-President of DSNA and took over as President after the Cleveland meeting, probably the only position he hadn’t yet held in the organization. (OK, so he was president, of the precursor of DSNA, the Society for the Study of Dictionaries and Lexicography which he and others formed in 1975, before the decision on the name was made and before a constitution was ratified in 1977.)  I became Sec.-Treas. in 1998.  He was just what I needed as a novice at the job.  He could answer all my questions, knew everything, could anticipate what I would need to learn.  I sent most queries received from individuals on to him to answer because he could and when I just took over I couldn’t.  Ed came to Madison in May of 1999, before the Berkeley meeting, and we hashed out the agendas for the meetings and in general went over things, and I learned even more about the Society.

Ed was the embodiment of the DSNA.  In the Spring 2015 newsletter it was announced that Ed was the recipient of the inaugural Richard W. Bailey Award for Distinguished Service to Lexicography and Lexicology, as Michael Adams, President at the time and instigator of the award, wrote, an award to be “presented to a senior member of the Society who has, throughout his or her career, significantly advanced lexicography or lexicology by service to one or both of those fields.” (p. 3) No one fits that description better than Ed. No one deserved the award more than he. I have remained in touch with Ed and Marion, especially in recent years.  I called them after the award was announced in the newsletter.  Marion called me when Ed received the actual award in the mail.  He was so pleased and proud!  I was so touched at his joy.  A kind, gentle, modest man who has affected the lives of so many.  Thank you, Ed, for all you’ve done, for being you.  I think of you frequently and will stay in touch, Marion.

Ed’s interment took place in Boston on August 22.  David Jost attended, as a friend and as a representative of the DSNA.

(Luanne von Schneidemesser)

Marion Gates and David Jost at the reception following the committal service, August 2016

Some memories of Ed Gates

The first time I entered Ed’s office in the fall of 1980, I could see evidence of his lexicography everywhere.  Although we had large offices that had started as double dorm rooms, Ed’s two closets were crammed with boxes of files; his shelves were filled with dictionaries, and his office had handmade boxes of the little slips of paper lexicographers used to use.  His wife, Marion, having just stopped teaching nursing, was there helping him file his recently-made slips.  Ed made room for me so we could sit at a tiny typing table, which was also the location of linguistics committee meetings.

Ed had arrived at Indiana State three or four years before me as the result of the establishment of a Master’s in Lexicography and Lexicology and the multiple donations of thousands of dictionaries and generous funds by Warren and Suzanne Cordell.  While the Master’s program went through many transitions, and is now a Master’s in TESL/Language Studies, the Cordell Collection has expanded to over 20,000 volumes in what I believe is the largest dictionary collection in the world (see Ed introduced me to the collection and opened my eyes to the amount of work involved in lexicography. His own donations of dictionaries to the Cordell Collection inspired me to donate many of mine also when I retired last year.

In addition to being a careful, diligent lexicographer, Ed was also quiet and methodical in his other work and in his life.  When he retired, he brought boxes and boxes of labeled files to my office.  They contained all of the records of not only his time at Indiana State, but also the archived syllabi, lectures, exercises, and tests, both handwritten and mimeographed, of the previous faculty who had taught linguistics before him. It was so characteristic of Ed to keep everything from committee notes to letters.

After Ed and Marion moved to Massachusetts to be closer to their children, we kept in touch, and I was able to visit them several times at their lakeside house near the Quabbin Reservoir. There too, Ed had many dictionaries and continued to work for the DSNA. There too, Ed kept a meticulous paper record of his grandson’s atypical language acquisition. There too, Ed and Marion ate a weekly schedule of breakfasts, eating eggs, oatmeal, etc. each one day per week.

Our correspondence ended when Marion wrote that they were moving into assisted care, but I am extremely thankful for all of the years of working together, learning from each other, and friendship we had.

(Leslie Barratt, Professor Emerita of Linguistics, Indiana State University)

Memories of Ed Gates

I arrived at Indiana State University in the summer of 1986 as the newly appointed Special Collections department chair, knowing very little about the Cordell Collection. Later, in consulting a library textbook I used in 1973-74, I found that the collection had already been listed as a unique resource. Only little by little did I find out about Ed Gates’s role in developing the collection in its formative phase and his key role in the establishment of the Dictionary Society of North America. He was a very modest person; he did not brag.

Of course, I began to read extensively about dictionaries and almost immediately sat in on a graduate course Ed taught as part of the master’s degree in English specializing in lexicography—a course he established at Indiana State University. We used classic texts in the field, including Sidney Landau’s important book, along with examples from the Cordell Collection. While there are a number of such programs in the country now, I believe Ed was a pioneer in establishing a hybrid professional program in lexicography in a U.S. institution of higher learning.

Of course, Ed invited me to join the DSNA. Even after his retirement in 1989, I enjoyed seeing him in attendance at the biennial meetings.

Ed and Marion took me into their home and invited me to their church. He and Marion often enjoyed a festive Sunday luncheon afterwards. They lived modestly together in Terre Haute for 19 years before returning to Springfield. I missed his counsel and friendship after his departure.

(David Vancil)

The Wisdom of Ed Gates

I was unhappy with some of the review editors’ revisions [of Gates’s copy for religious definitions in Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary (W7)]. One was a change in my definition of the religious sense of love. In W6 this was defined as “the benevolence attributed to God as being like a father’s affection for his children; also, men’s adoration of God.” That seemed to me not to cover the love Christians are to have for each other. After hours spent trying to define this to match the understanding of the word in Christian theology, I filed this definition: “self-giving concern for others that freely accepts another in loyalty and seeks his good regardless of the cost.” When the copy came to the office in page proof, I checked on this definition and found that “self-giving” had been changed to “unselfish” and “regardless of the cost” had been deleted, greatly weakening the definition, it seemed and seems to me. In W8, the whole sense vanished, being restored only in W10 as “brotherly love.” Today an editor might also be concerned to make this definition gender neutral.  (Edward Gates, 1994. The Lexicography of Religious Language. Dictionaries: Journal of The Dictionary Society of North America 15: 94.)

What role can organizations like DSNA and EURALEX have in fostering teaching about dictionaries and reference science? They can support instruction in the role and use of dictionaries on all levels of our educational systems. They can, as EURALEX has done, sponsor or co-sponsor workshops and other special events at which people considering lexicography as a profession can test their interest, those planning to make dictionaries as a scholarly specialization or as a career can gain basic skills, and working lexicographers can share problems and solutions. They can cooperate with organizations of elementary and secondary teachers to hold workshops on teaching dictionary use. They can cooperate with teachers of modern languages and of English as a second language to hold workshops on the use of dictionaries. Workshops for teachers would include a survey of available dictionaries and teaching materials, criteria for assessing them, and methods of instruction in dictionary use. (Edward Gates, 1997. A Survey of the Teaching of Lexicography. Dictionaries: Journal of The Dictionary Society of North America 18: 89.)



News of Members

Alexander Bocast reports that the Encyclopedia of Diderot & d’Alembert Collaborative Translation Project has just published his translation of the article on définition in Diderot’s Encyclopédie, the first time that the article has been published in an English translation. They have put it up in three parts: one each for definition in logic, in mathematics, and in rhetoric.

Ray Cole, founder of the press The Rational Curriculums Enterprise™, which encourages “the rational development of the humanities,” in 2015 published Finding Your Voice, Everyday Phrases for Speaking and Writing, Volume 1 by Marshall Frank. Volume 1 contains “phrases that can serve as verbs or actions.” For more information please see

The paperback edition of Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century was published earlier this year. Also, the Guardian published an interview in which he commends lexicographers rather than journalists and essayists as sources of sound advice on usage.

Lewis J. Poteet reports that “after six paperback slang word-books on Nova Scotia, Quebec Eastern Townships, hockey, cars and motorcycles, aviation and cops lexicons, I am at work on a memoir which probes links between Swaziland and Soweto, missions and apartheid, through narrative from my experience in those two places 1946–1952 and return trips 2012–2014. To be titled Voetsak, it will spring from words: the King James Version–flavoured Nazarene lexicon; Nationalist party naming of places and practices; the common significance for South African victims of repression and the protest songs from Sixto Rodriguez’ experience as a member of the ‘hardworking class’ in inner-city Detroit in the 1960s; the political power of muti and the bosberaad; the evolving fortunes of English and Afrikaans during the anti-apartheid struggle; and the way in which the ‘Gospel light’ has come to be better spread by solar-powered water pumps than by sermons.”

Request for Member News

Please send your news for the next issue of the DSNA Newsletter to Peter Chipman at


HEL-LEX5, 5th International Symposium on History of English Lexicography and Lexicology, 16–18 February 2017, Zurich, Switzerland,

SHEL 10, English Department, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. 2–4 June 2017.

ASIALEX 2017, the National Key Research Center for Linguistics and Applied Linguistics at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies (GDUFS), Guangzhou, China. 10–12 June 2017.

Prescriptivism 2017, Brigham Young University, Park City, UT. 21–23 June 2017.

AustraLex Conference, University of the South Pacific, Rarotonga, Cook Islands. 28–29 August 2017.

eLex Conference, Institute of the Dutch Language, Leiden, the Netherlands, second half of September 2017.

19th Century Lexicography Conference: Between Science and Fiction. Stanford University, Stanford, CA USA, 6–7 April 2018.

2017 Conference in Barbados

Plans for the conference in Barbados are moving along nicely. The Call for Papers will go out publicly shortly via the Linguist List and other linguistics and lexicography listservs. Be sure to share it widely when you receive the links. However, as DSNA members, you are the first to see the call here. All information will be on our website

Be sure to book your rooms early at the Accra Beach Hotel or the Blue Horizon Hotel, both of which have special rates for the conference, or feel free to look for other hotels in the Rockley/Hastings area, all of which are gorgeous and none of which are very far by van or car from the Accra Beach Hotel. Accra Beach has also offered to honor the group rate for the five days preceding and following the conference, for those of you wishing to stay and enjoy the beautiful weather and attractions that Barbados has to offer.

For those who missed it here is a description of the Conference:

DSNA in Barbados June 9–12, 2017

Planning is already underway for DSNA’s next conference, to be held in Barbados June 9–12, 2017, at the Accra Beach Hotel. Please mark your calendar! It will be sponsored by the Richard & Jeannette Allsopp Centre for Caribbean Lexicography at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, St. Michael, Barbados. Jason Siegel, Director of the Centre, is the chair of the meeting; Jeannette Allsopp is also on the committee. Until Richard’s death in 2009, both he and Jeannette were longtime members of DSNA. Richard is the author of the Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage (1996). The publication of the dictionary marked the culmination of more than two decades of research, and includes data from eighteen Caribbean territories. Jeannette Allsopp authored the related Caribbean Multilingual Dictionary of Flora, Fauna, and Foods in English, French, French Creole, and Spanish (2003).
Jason reports that the conference will not have a theme per se, but people are encouraged to think about possible topics that deal with or intersect with the Caribbean region. A call for papers, along with details about registration and booking of hotels, will be forthcoming by the end of the summer. Call for Papers is given below.

June 12 will be reserved for an optional outing to see various tourist attractions on the island. The excursion includes Harrison’s Cave, a unique site in the Caribbean made possible by Barbados’s status as one of the few islands in the Antilles that is not volcanic. We will also visit the George Washington House, the site where the first U.S. president lived during the only period of time that he left what would become the U.S. We will not need any designated beach time during this visit, as the whole conference will be on beachfront property.

Call for Papers

The 21st Biennial Dictionary Society of North America Conference will be held off the North American continent for the first time, in the Caribbean country of Barbados. Presentations on any aspect of lexicography and lexicology in any language are welcome. Those focussed on aspects of Caribbean lexicology and lexicography are particularly encouraged. All presenters of conference papers must be members of the DSNA.