restricted access Oxford Dictionary of Phrase, Saying, and Quotation (review)
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REVIEWS Oxford Dictionary ofPhrase, Saying, and Quotation. 2006. Third Edition. Susan Ratcliffe, ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pp. xxi + 689. Oi IDPSQ brings together a smartly updated collection of important expressions from the overlapping categories of phrase, saying, and quotation. An editorial preface explains the distinctions among these groups as follows: phrases and sayings embody the common wisdom of a culture , while quotations are the peculiar expressions of individuals. As a perusal of the book's contents makes clear, phrases may express a full-blown idea in a highly abbreviated way (no peacefor the wicked), provide shorthand allusions to more elaborate expressions or ideas (leave no stone unturned), or stand for a simple concept, much as any lexical entry would (habeas corpus, flower power) . Sayings, often in the form of proverbs, express ideas concisely but more fully than phrases (man is the measure ofall things, two wrongs don't make a right, laughter is the best mediciné) and, like phrases, are unattributed. Quotations, the most elaborate and idiosyncratically expressive of the three types, are identified with particular individuals. Phrases and sayings together constitute roughly one-third of the book's material, with quotations making up the bulk of most of its thematic sections. The editor's purpose in incorporating phrases and sayings into a quotation dictionary is to show the relationships among the three different types of utterance — in particular, the various permutations a particular expression may undergo as it is taken up and disseminated by different speakers and writers . This is surely one of the most interesting aspects of the book. In the thematic section Absence, for example, the phrase gone with the wind appears with the gloss 'gone completely, disappeared without trace'; this is followed by a cross-reference to a quotation in the section Memory, where the original context of the phrase is given: a stanza from a poem by Ernest Dowson that begins , "I have forgot much, Cynara! Gone with the wind ..." A further note at the phrasal entry informs us that Dowson's words were "subsequently popularized by the tide of Margaret Mitchell's novel (1936) on the American Civil War." Thus it is that three different iterations of the same locution are listed, semantically analyzed as needed, and placed in historical relationship. Such depth of treatment is typical of the book and extremely illuminating for the reader. Cited material is organized alphabetically by theme, a sensible arrangement for the user who comes to the book with an idea and seeks a quotation , saying, or phrase to illustrate it. Dates and supplemental information Dictionaries:Journal ofthe Dictionary Sodety ofNorth America 28 (2007), 180-181 Reviews181 provided in explanatory notes help to contextualize the entries historically and culturally. Semantic glosses, especially for phrases, are generously supplied . Numerous cross-references point to related entries and thematic sections , alerting the reader to different variations of the same expression (as Thomas Jefferson's "When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry a hundred" and Mark Twain's "When angry, count four; when very angry, swear") or to different groupings treating a similar idea (Idealism and Hope, Equality and Human Rights, etc.) For users wishing to search for specific words appearing within quotations, phrases, or sayings, a 175-page keyword index is provided in the back matter of the book. In terms of its content, although ODPSQ is clearly not designed to be exhaustive, it covers the most important concepts with authority and incorporates a great deal of contemporary material. A thematic section on Computers and the Internet, for example, defines garbage in, garbage out and introduces such late-20th century aphorisms as "to err is human but to really foul things up requires a computer." Another section tided Race and Racism foregrounds modern sensibilities by quoting Adolf Hider and Hermann Goering side by side with Malcolm X, Toni Morrison,JesseJackson, Tiger Woods, and Condoleezza Rice. Popular sources are frequendy cited in forms such as political and advertising slogans, latter-day truisms ("If life hands you lemons, make lemonade"), and song lyrics (under Ambition, for example, the Spice Girls' "Yo I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want") . Current political figures and cultural icons...