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 Elect, Kory Stamper, our Executive Secretary, and the generous support and engagement offered by the whole Board: David Jost, Anne Curzan, Sarah Ogilvie, Peter Gilliver, and Steve Kleinedler, our Past President. They know how grateful I am for all they have given. I am very aware, too, (and perhaps it is a feature of our Society) of the ready and generous way in which others have made their experience and skill available. Michael Adams has been an expert chair of key nomination groups, and Orin Hargraves was ready both to take on organization for what was to be our 2021 Conference in Colorado, and then to continue that responsibility for what has become the deferred meeting in 2023. Wendi Nichols has continued to put her immense reference publishing experience at the service of the Publications Committee. David Jost continues to make the Newsletter an essential part of our outreach. Sarah Ogilvie took on the position of DSNA representative to Globalex. Most importantly, Ed and Kory have somehow found the time to arrange for DSNA’s first virtual biennial, to be held in June. There is a typical pattern in all this of people ‘going the extra mile’ for which I can only be grateful.
We have also been able to secure succession in the most positive way. Not only has Lynne Murphy been installed as Editor of Dictionaries, a worthy successor to the previous distinguished incumbent, but we have elected a full and strong slate of excellent candidates who will work with Ed to take the Society forward. (The new title of Executive Director is an example of the importance of an apparently small change: it recognizes properly the real responsibilities of this role.) Nothing could be a more positive testimony to the health and future prospects of the Society than that able and talented people are ready and willing to take on responsibility for its essential work. I take it as a general encouragement too for the broader position that we have recently had the welcome news of the establishment of another lexicographical group in the Americas with the foundation of ‘AmericaLex S’. The existence of a related society in the same hemisphere is likely to benefit both organizations and their members.
This all speaks to essential strengths, which has served us very well in these difficult times. Inevitably, we have had to defer some of the things we were hoping in 2019 that we could put in train, not least a structured reaching out to our membership with a questionnaire. The strategic planning we had hoped to develop in the spring of 2020 was overtaken by COVID. Nevertheless, I believe we were able to lay some key groundwork. By April 2020 we had been able as a Board to analyse both strengths and challenges and to identify key questions for strategic development and forward planning.
That is not to say that the “Time of COVID” has not been difficult, not to say tragic. The death of Madeline Kripke brought early awareness of the ravages of the disease. And of course, the difficulties are not over. Although the position in some countries has, thanks to a vaccination programme, improved, in others it is still worsening. Further variants may yet develop, and need to be addressed. We have not yet seen anything like the full economic impact, but it is reasonable to assume that it will continue to compromise opportunities within the lexicographical world. Academic studies, library budgets, publishing plans, and openings for freelance work are all likely to be adversely affected. In a straitened climate, a society with the interests of its membership at heart can play an important role in supporting and encouraging key expertise, and in providing a forum in which matters of interest can be discussed.
When in 2019 I had the immense privilege of becoming President of DSNA, I expressed the hope that above all we could focus on strategic planning for the longer term, and be proactive as well as reactive in our efforts. Now that my two-year-term is nearly up, and we have had to react to entirely unprecedented circumstances, I feel that we have in fact demonstrated a real capacity to do that appropriately without losing sight of the broader vision. And perhaps the challenges have brought their own benefits. While we have not yet been able, as we had hoped, to look in detail at our membership and what they value most, circumstances did in fact provide significant clarification. In reducing our focus to concentrate on ‘must-have’ items, it became evident that a biennial meeting (virtual or in person) was an essential, as was the continuing provision of the journal. Agility in the face of circumstances will remain an essential, and precise forms of outreach to members are still to be further worked out, but it is now clear that the journal and a regular meeting are non-negotiables for a flourishing Society. For the rest, I have every confidence that Ed and the talented team who will support him are now well placed to build on the foundations that have, thanks to those named here and many others, been laid.
In closing, I would like to say again how much I have appreciated the friendship and professional expertise I have found in the Society, and what an honour I regard it to have been asked to serve as President of DSNA. I look forward now to a continued association that I greatly value, and to supporting in every way the work of our incoming President and Vice President and the new Executive Director and Board.
Elizabeth Knowles, President, DSNA
4 May 2021
Farewell from Kory Stamper
I chaired my final DSNA Business Meeting as the Executive Secretary in late May, and enjoyed seeing so many of our members over Zoom. As my final act as outgoing Executive Secretary, I share some of the highlights of my final meeting here with the broader membership. (The slides for the Business Meeting can be found at https://dictionarysociety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/DSNA23-Business-Meeting.pdf)
From a fiscal standpoint, the Society is in very good stead, even considering the stresses of the pandemic. It can’t be overstated how much the loss of conference income from cancellations and the weight of staff salaries have endangered our sister societies; we are fortunate that our primary sources of income (royalty revenue from Project MUSE and membership dues) have not only been steady through the last two years, but have increased. Through the stewardship of the Board, we have accrued a comfortable cushion that will enable us to secure the 2023 conference site in Boulder, CO, continue to invest in our journal, and give us “breathing room” to undertake, once more, strategic planning and new endeavors for the Society.
Our membership has increased as well, with more student members than ever before, and more “lexicography-adjacent” members in recent years. An increase in the price of institutional memberships for schools and libraries has actually netted us more institutional subscribers, and easy renewal structures online have meant that our individual subscriber base has stayed steady, rather than dipping in off-conference years as has been the pattern.
I’ve been grateful that the Board has supported my proposals to help streamline the work of the Executive Secretary and shore up our governance and operational structures. Chief among these are putting in place systems to help automate membership, drafting a Code of Conduct, and proposing (and passing!) an annual budget. And we forged new territory in holding, this year, our first fully online conference.
We do have some challenges still ahead of us—the resumption of strategic planning under the continued threat of COVID—but I hand the reins off to Lindsay Rose Russell confident that the foundation that has been laid will be handily built upon.
Thank you for your kindness and support during my tenure!
Report from Lindsay Rose Russell
Results of the 2021 DSNA election saw Kory Stamper elected Vice President, Lindsay Rose Russell elected Executive Director, and Jeannette Allsopp and Orión Montoya elected Members at Large of the Executive Board. Michael Adams, Richard A. Spears, and David Vancil were named Fellows of the Society. The ballot also saw successful passage of two revisions to the Code of Regulations meant to bring them in line with the actual practice of the Society and best practices of sister societies. Many thanks to the Nominating Committee—Michael Adams, Katy Isaacs, Sarah Ogilvie, and Orin Hargraves—and the Executive Board for their thoughtful and thorough work in proposing candidates and amendments.
Executive Board Update
The Board met in May, just before the first virtual meeting of the Dictionary Society of North America, to bid farewell to outgoing members Peter Gilliver and Sarah Ogilvie while welcoming new members Jeannette Allsopp, Orión Montoya, and Lindsay Rose Russell. Many thanks were offered to Elizabeth Knowles and Kory Stamper for serving as President and Executive Secretary respectively; both remain on the Board in new capacities. Coinciding with Lindsay Rose Russell’s tenure as Executive Director, relocation of the Society’s offices to Urbana, Illinois were announced. In addition to discussing the Society’s healthy membership and finances, the Board welcomed confirmation that the 2023 conference in Boulder will indeed happen at the University of Colorado (May 31–June 3) with Orin Hargraves heading up the Program and Conference Committees. Save the date!
The Board met again in July. The success of the 2021 virtual DSNA23, organized by Ed Finegan and Kory Stamper, was a primary topic of praise and discussion, as was the possibility of future virtual DSNA programming to supplement in-person biennial meetings. The other point of business was strategic planning for DSNA’s future, the process of which will likely include a survey of the membership, revisitation of educational initiatives, revision of the website, and revival of the lexicographical projects initiative.
Dictionary Society of North America
Our New Executive Board
Lindsay Rose Russell is Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois and an enthusiastic member of DSNA. Those who attended the recent biennial meeting at Indiana University will remember her production of “The Big Book,” the play by Grace Gove performed at the picnic celebration of the completion of Webster’s Third. She is an intrepid archival scholar and author of the much-acclaimed Women and Dictionary-Making: Gender Genre, and English Language Lexicography (Cambridge UP, 2018), “Sharper tools: Missionary women’s lexicography in Asia,” which appeared in The Whole World in a Book: Dictionaries in the Nineteenth Century, edited by Sarah Ogilvie and Gabriela Safran (Oxford UP, 2020), and already three articles in Dictionaries (2014, 2018, 2020), among other works.
Kory Stamper was for nearly two decades an editor of Merriam-Webster dictionaries and now works as Senior Project Editor for American English for Cambridge University Press. She is the author of the best-selling Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries (Pantheon, 2017) and has written scads of articles and made many media appearances to talk about words and dictionaries, most recently on Nicholas Cage’s History of Swear Words (Netflix). She is almost through a four-year term as DSNA’s Executive Director.
Members-at-Large of the Executive Board
Jeannette Allsopp is the former director of the Centre for Caribbean Lexicography at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, which is now named the Richard and Jeannette Allsopp Centre for Caribbean Lexicography. Besides contributing to the Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage (Oxford UP, 1996), she also edited The Caribbean Multilingual Dictionary: Of Flora, Fauna, and Foods in English, French Creole, and Spanish (U of West Indies P, 2006) and recently contributed “Dictionaries of Caribbean English: Agents of standardization” to the Cambridge Companion to English Dictionaries, edited by Sarah Ogilvie (Cambridge UP, 2020).
Orión Montoya is a software engineer who specializes in systems for dictionary research and production. Their career began with digitizing South Asian dictionaries for the University of Chicago library and since, they have worked in various capacities with Oxford Dictionaries, Wordnik, IDM, and now Textio, all the while freelancing as a computational lexicographer. They recently organized the forum on vernacular lexicography in Dictionaries (Fall 2020).
Biographies of New DSNA Fellows
Michael Adams is Provost Professor and Chair of the Department of English Language and Literature at Indiana University at Bloomington. While in graduate school at the University of Michigan, he worked as an assistant on the Middle English Dictionary (1986–1988). He was a consulting editor on the fourth edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000) and a contributing editor on The Barnhart Dictionary Companion: A Quarterly of New Words (1991–2001). He has also published significant articles on the history of lexicography. Within DSNA, he was editor of Dictionaries (2000–2005) and the Society’s president (2013–2015). As well as chairing DSNA committees and serving as the Society’s ACLS delegate, he organized two DSNA biennial meetings – in 2009 and 2019. He is currently co-editing The Cambridge Handbook of the Dictionary, and his historical/critical edition of the classic Problems in Lexicography is forthcoming (Indiana University Press).
Richard A. Spears has been a member of DSNA since 1984. He took his Ph.D. in linguistics at Indiana University and was Adjunct Associate Professor of Linguistics at Northwestern University for decades while also Director of the Dictionary Department of the NTC Publishing Group, for which he personally edited or co-edited some two dozen dictionaries, many of them in several editions, some of them translated, such as NTC’s Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions (1989 →) and McGraw-Hill’s Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs (2004 →), thus becoming a major figure in the American commercial dictionary market, as author, editor, and publisher. He is also author or editor of other books, such as Basic Course in Mende (Northwestern University, 1967) and West African Folktales (Northwestern University Press, 1991).
David Vancil, now retired from Indiana State University, was the fifth curator of the Warren N. and Suzanne B. Cordell Collection of Dictionaries. The Cordell Collection is important in its own right, but it also occasioned the conferences held at ISU in 1971 and 1975 that led to the founding of DSNA. There has thus always been an intimate relationship between the Cordell Collection and DSNA, and throughout his tenure at ISU, David Vancil embodied the connection and continuously communicated the value of the collection to the world at DSNA meetings, many other conferences, and in journal articles and book chapters. He is the author of Catalog of Dictionaries, Word Books, and Philological Texts 1440–1900 (Greenwood Press, 1993). He has been a member of DSNA since 1986.
Proposed Amendments to the DSNA Code of Regulations
Proposed Amendment 2021-ED [Section III. A. and All Other Mentions of “Executive Secretary”]
(Note. The proposed change reflects the evolution of the role of executive secretary in DSNA and better reflects current responsibilities inherent in the role. The change would parallel titles in some other organizations such as the Linguistic Society of America. While still other societies employ titles like “Secretary-Treasurer” or “Treasurer,” in DSNA those roles are combined in the office the amendment proposes to name “Executive Director.” Below is one of several mentions in the Code of Regulations, but the amendment proposes to change all mentions in the Code. Below, the existing language comes first, the proposed language second. Underscoring and strikethrough serve solely to highlight the proposed changes.)
The officers of the DSNA shall be a President, a Vice-President, and an Executive Secretary.
The officers of the DSNA shall be a President, a Vice-President, and an Executive Director.
Proposed Amendment 2021-M [Section IV. A.]
(Note. The origin of the existing language is not clear. In practice, DSNA has been meeting biennially, not annually, for quite some time. Below, the existing language comes first, the proposed language second. Underscoring and strikethrough serve solely to highlight the proposed changes.)
There shall be an annual meeting of the DSNA at a place and time determined by the Executive Board.
There shall be a
n annual meeting of the DSNA at least every two years at a place and time determined by the Executive Board.
Proposed Amendment 2021-B [Section III. C. 4.]
(Note. Amendment 2021-B reflects the fact that most DSNA business is now conducted electronically, not by “mail” and can therefore be concluded efficiently within a two-month window. A three-month window may have been helpful in the past but is now outdated and unhelpful. Below, the existing language comes first, the proposed language second. Underscoring and strikethrough serve solely to highlight the proposed changes.)
A mail ballot shall be submitted to the voting members of the DSNA not less than three months prior to every alternate year meeting of the Corporation, commencing with the 1991 meeting.
REPORT OF THE GLOBALEX MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE MEETINGS
The Globalex Management Committee (MC) met virtually, once monthly, January through June, 2021. These reports summarize the major items discussed and the actions taken.
FIRST and SECOND QUARTER OF 2021
- The problems of online voting for committee membership in all associations were discussed.
- A new continental association is being founded: AmericaLex SCCM (i.e. South, Central, Caribbean and Mexico). English, Spanish and Portuguese are the main languages of communication. A preliminary website is available at https://americalex.org/.
Conferences and workshops
- The 19th Euralex conference is rescheduled for 7-12 September 2021 in Greece.
- The third Globalex Workshop on Lexicography and Neology (GWLN 2021), with a focus on coronavirus-related vocabulary, will be held online, pending decision on the new date (31 August) and conjunction with the online Australex conference on 1-2 September 2021.
- 4th TIAD (Translation Inference Across Dictionaries) – September 1 hybrid – in conjunction with LDK 2021 in Zaragoza, Spain
The MC members have made comments on the Globalex website and will consider redesigning it in Q2. The agreement that each continental association contributes $20 US a year needs to be formalized. This will cover expenses of the Globalex website.
Globalex management committee membership and observers
- Discussion was held on the length of membership for management committee members, in accordance with the terms in the Regulations ratified in September 2020.
- The status and number of potential observers for Globalex meetings were discussed.
- Julia Miller (AustraLex) and Sarah Ogilvie (DSNA) and are stepping down as MC members. Julia will be replaced by Amanda Laugesen of AustraLex from July 2021. Sarah Ogilvie will be replaced by Orin Hargraves from July 2021.
- Ilan Kernerman (Chair) and Julia Miller (Vice Chair) are stepping down from these positions. A new Chair and Vice Chair will be elected by the new MC at the next meeting in July.
- A representative of the newly formed AmericaLex will be invited to join the MC.
Elexifinder will be added to the Globalex website.
Globalex tax report
Q1 report was submitted in the Netherlands on April 20.
The latest issues of Lexicon have been added to the Globalex repository.