In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews171 that word after being warned away from individuals) like them and some don't. Even if you want them or think you need them, they ought to be helpful. The utility of the note at pibroch stretches my (non-Oxford) American imagination: "a series of variations of a theme for the bagpipes. Note that this does not means bagpipes." I could go on, but this dictionary does not deserve a fuller review. Instead, I'll take a hint from their usage note at kudos ("This word is always singular . . . ") and propose that we award the OAD one kudo. Thomas E. Toon The University of Michigan Jürgen Schäfer. Documentation in the O.E.D.: Shakespeare and Nashe as Test Cases. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980. ? + 176 pp. $29.50 While the 1970s were a decade of unparalleled prosperity for scholarly lexicography , the 1980s promise a return to the customary state of austerity. Although well-established projects may find the funds to bring work to completion —the Middle English Dictionary, the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue, and the two remaining Supplements to the OED are instances, one hopes—new projects or efforts now only at the beginning of the editorial process do not face a cheerful future. Yet neither were the middle-1850s auspicious for lexicography as members of the Philological Society began to discuss plans for the New English Dictionary. Perhaps these lexicographical ancestors of ours were fortunate in their utter inability to estimate the time and expense involved in producing a major scholarly dictionary. Trench and Coleridge, after all, believed that the NED could be produced with part-time and volunteer labor in two or three years. Today we know the time and investment required for a major new scholarly dictionary and do not have, therefore, the optimism that comes with naivete about such matters. Trench's monograph, On Some Deficiencies in Our English Dictionaries (1860), is usually taken as the stimulus for the first phase of work on the NED, though as Thomas Clark notes elsewhere in this issue of Dictionaries, when J. A. H. Murray assumed the editorship he looked to the example of lexicography in Germany as defined by Franz Passow in 1812. It was Trench, however, who identified the gaps in existing dictionaries that needed to be filled and proposed, at least in a rudimentary way, the method of extracting citations for historical texts that became the basis for Murray's work. Thus, Trench contributed significantly to creating a demand for a major historical dictionary, and Jürgen Schäfer in the monograph under review has likewise identified "deficiencies " in the OED and has suggested an approach to remedying them. Schäfer's book has, in my view, three principal virtues, each of them appealing to a somewhat different readership. First, he supplies a list (pp. 89-171) of "innovation units" that enable readers to locate new information that supplements the datings of many words in the OED and Shorter OED. While these words come from the works of only four authors — Shakespeare, Nashe, Malory, and Wyatt — they are of sufficient interest to literary scholars to make this feature of his book a useful complement to my Early Modern English: Additions and Antedatings to the Record of English Vocabulary 1475-1700 172Richard W. Bailey (Hildesheim and New York: Georg Olms Verlag, 1978). As Schäfer points out, "it does not seem to be generally known that the dates of many first citations are not the same in O.E.D. and S. O. E.D." (p. 78), and his "innovation units" reveal this difference. For Shakespeare, for instance, there are 2,049 "innovation units" when the OED is used as the basis of comparison but only 1,189 when the SOED dates are used. Fortunately, since few literary scholars are likely to assemble facts from the SOED, my work, and Schäfer's, the new edition of the SOED now in preparation at Oxford will incorporate datings from all three sources along with other information that is now available for revising the historical record. A second virtue of Schäfer's book is the insight it provides into the editorial practices of the...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 171-173
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.