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Short Reviews How I Made My Dictionary. 1998. Emile Littré. Trans. T K. Gopalan. Chennai, India: Cre-A. Af' fter Littré (1801-1881) had completed his monumental Diction- ^.naire de la langue Française (1872), he wrote a fascinating account of that enterprise, modestly titled "Commentj'ai fait mon dictionnaire," which appeared in a collection of essays, Etudes et glanures (1880), but has never before been translated into English. Gopalan's translation is accurate and conveys the original's lively, intense effect, and those who have never read this remarkable map of the personal, political, and philosophical roads that lead to major dictionaries will put it down wiser than when they took it up. Though a useful (and necessary) translation, the book under review does not answer all of our needs with regard to Littré's autobiographical essay. Littré was a disciple of the positivist philosopher Auguste Comte, but neither introduction nor apparatus explains Comte's influence on Littré's approach to making the dictionary. Littré was deeply affected by the political events of his early years, but an uninformed reader will find no commentary on the Revolution of 1848, let alone a sense of where, in Littré's life, the Dictionnaire answered both personal and public political needs. The footnotes to the translation are sparse and spare, and this book suggests, if nothing else, that someone should produce a fully annotated English edition. Dictionaries of Germanic Lnaguages: A Survey of Current Lexicographical Projects. 1997. Ed. K. H. van Dalen-Oskam, K. A. C. Depuydt, W.J.J. Pijnenburg , and T H. Schoonheim. International Medieval Research 2. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols. H; ralf of this book contains brief, descriptive essays on historical dic- -tionary projects in Dutch, English, German, and Norse in their "Middle Periods," including Vroegmiddelnederlands Woordenboek. 1200—1300 (= 'Dictionary of Early Middle Dutch: 1200-1300'), CD-ROM Middelnederlands (= 'Dictionary of Middle Dutch on CD-Rom'), Historisch Woordenboek derNederlandse Rechtstaal. 14de- 18de eeuw (= 'Historical Dictionary of Dutch Legal Terminology : 14lh -18th century'), A Thesaurus of Old English, A Thesaurus ofMiddle English, Historical Thesaurus ofEnglish, the Dictionary of Old English, the Middle English Dictionary, Mittelhochdeutsches Wörterbuch. 1050-1350 (= 'Middle High German Dictionary: 1050-1350'), Ordbog over det Norr0ne Prosaprog (= ? Dictionary of Old Norse Prose'), Gammalnorsk Ordboksverk (= 'Dictionary of Old Norwegian c. 1200-1550'), and Ordbok over Skriftsprâket INorge (= 'Dictionary of the Written Language in Norway 1350-1550'). 1 72Short Reviews Historical lexicography is an unexpectedly vital field. Not only are there many current projects, but practice in this particular discipline raises many methodological problems, so that historical lexicographers must inquire into the peculiar nature of their tasks as other lexicographers rarely do. For instance , as Erik Simenson asks in "On the Preparation of a Dictionary of Middle Norwegian," what is the fundamental value of a period dictionary? Taneke Schoonheim, in "The Vroegmiddelnederlands Woordenboek and the Computer," explains how automated corpus lexicography helps to realize certain goals of the historical dictionary. Obele Vries, in "The Importance of Legal History to Old Frisian Lexicography," and Jeffrey L. Singman, in "Encyclopaedic Aspects of Historical Lexicography and the Question of Context," both reveal the extent to which historical lexicographers' success depends on an intimate understanding of relevant social history. James M. Girsch, in "Identification of the Veins and Arteries in Middle English Medical Literature," and Elizabeth S. Girsch, in "The Lexicographer's Dilemma: Handling Mistranslations, Misconstruings , and Paranomasia in Source-Texts," both describe types of bibliographic problems that plague historical lexicography. And Karina van DalenOskam and Katrien Depuydt, in "Lexicography and Philology," remind readers of the difference between those two arts, and how that difference defines the purpose of historical lexicography as a "language science." All of these essays are, in one sense, testimony: as such, they humanize a forbidding discipline; but they also illustrate, more broadly, historical lexicography's continually developing method. Abbreviations Dictionary: A Practical Compilation ofToday's Acronyms and Abbreviations. 1999. Robert S. Wachal. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Pp. vi + 282. $5.95. wi fachal's book will serve many different types of users, not only those who want abbreviations defined, but those concerned with their forms and usage, as well. While some will still need the compendia one finds in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 171-177
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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