restricted access A Calculus for New Words
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o; A Calculus for New Words David K. Barnhart Lexik House Publishers ? ne truly hot issue in neologisms and dictionaries at the beginning of the 21st century revolves around the finding and evaluation of items not entered in current dictionaries. This issue rose in importance in the 1980's with electronically retrievable data. One of the earliest applications of the Nexis portion of Lexis/Nexis was to the research of new words for The Barnhart Dictionary Companion. Certain databases, such as Nexis, Dialog, and more recently ProQuest , are, or ought to be, used by lexicographers in their research. However, there are many problems inherent in electronic resource management . What constitutes adequate data? And, what is a reasonable budget for such data collection? For the editor of a new-words column or new-words dictionary, these questions are not as critical as they are for the lexicographer working on a college dictionary. Those focusing upon just new words may find evidence anywhere relatively easily. On the other hand, those pursuing general dictionary projects must carefully evaluate and consistently apply what resources they choose. This exercise may require more care than at first assumed. In a recent communication on the American Dialect Society Listserv, Fred Shapiro provided a compilation of electronic resources that amounted to over 95 Web sites useful in such research . Now, this might excite the linguist researcher with the possibilities of a hunting ground rich with productive sources. However, to the experienced lexicographer, navigating such a vast array of information may be more like using ajacklight to illuminate the way through a dark forest. Dictionaries:Journal oftheDictionary Society ofNorth America 28 (2007) , 132-138 A Calculus for New Words1 33 Watergate (BDNE2: 1980) is perhaps one of the more dramatic examples of a new-words generator. Speakers of American English have been treated to 18 terms (e.g., Watergater, Watergatese, Watergative, etc.) from "Among the New Words" (Algeo 1991) based upon the first element in the term — Water-. But it was the second element that captured the imagination of speakers of American English. The combining form -gate has produced scores of novel forms, including the most facetious term gategate (Algeo 1991). Over the years since the first appearance of Watergate (1973) some writer has applied -gatesignifying a political event of scandalous proportions in every general election cycle. (Barnhart 1980, 1989, 2007). The abstraction of -foe* from gridlock (Barnhart 1983) produced boatlock, cablock, limolock and pedlock (Barnhart 1999). In these cases lexicographers gained insight to the significance or frivolousness of candidates by the application of a simple display of data: date and range — a system employed by Clarence Barnhart from his earliest construction of his quotation file in the late 1940s (Barnhart 1970, 1995). In the American Speech column "Among the New Words," Glowka et al. were recently confronted with a long list of candidates formed from the combination of —sploitation with other words, including: artsploitation , Aussie-sploitation, beige-sploitation, chant-sploitation, crime-sploitation , curling-sploitation, Di-sploitation, existentialsphitation, funk-sploitation, gay-sploitation, geek-sploitation, gospel-sploitation, hippie-sploitation, Jewsploitation , net-sploitation, 9-11-sploitation, pulp-sploitation, rag-sploitation, rap-sploitation, sea-sploitation, self-sploitation, '70-style 'sploitation, skatesploitation , teen-sploitation, temp-sploitation, and youth-sploitation. This combining form, -sploitation, appeared as an extrapolation from black-sploitation (BDNE2 1980; earliest date, 1974) and sex-ploitation (BDNE3 1990; earliest dates, 1941, 1966). These 26 forms each would take not too long to justify for entry in a new-words column. For a dictionary in which many standard forms are competing for space, the examination ofjust one or two e-resources might demand a substantial part of at least one day in the office (Barnhart 1998) . If a lexicographer were constrained to just one resource, e.g., Nexis, the picture might be quite different, especially from a historical point of view, than if she or he (or their research assistant) was allowed to roam more widely among the 95 Web sites provided by Shapiro. Given a term of considerable longevity yet spotty occurrence in the dictionary record, such as bloviate or bloviation, the examination of databases that extend back in history, such as NewspaperArchive .com and the Historical New York Times (ProQuest...


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