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REVIEWS 200Reviews Frederic C. Mish et al., Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, Springfield, MA, Merriam-Webster, Inc., 1983, 1563 pp. In its obituary of Jess Stein (1914-1984) The New York Times wrote that he "once noted that many words were omitted from dictionaries and that the methods of gathering words were not perfect. He explained that to fit cybernetics in the American College Dictionary it was necessary to take a line from the definition of cyanide, reduce the cycloid illustration, delete an example of the usage of cut, and shorten the space between the end of the C and D listings" (June 25, 1984, p. D13). Publishers still in the precomputer age who do not want to spend the money to have an entire dictionary reset for a "new" edition do indeed merely snip here and there in order to add new material, but in mentioning this stratagem as the epitome of lexicography the Times has trivialized our work (the obituary says no more about dictionary-making). Were Webster's Ninth (W9) but a retouched version of its predecessor, it could be dispatched in a few lines. Happily, it is a fresh work which in almost every respect meets the highest standards of contemporary monolingual lexicography . 1. What to Include and What to Omit Lexicographers who do not have at their disposal all of the space, time, money, and personpower they would like are obliged to be selective. In such circumstances, one area where less than a complete record of the language has to be given is neologisms. If the new form (lexeme or meaning) seems to be more than an ephemeralism or if it is a prominent item at the moment (such as executiveprivilege in 1968), it is a good candidate for inclusion. Thus, the second college edition of Webster's New World Dictionary (1982) omitted executive privilege (presumably because it saw the Reviews201 term as passing out of the limelight after Richard Nixon's resignation), but W9 included it. On the other hand, WNWD, but not W9, listed streak 'to engage in the prank of dashing naked for a short distance in a public place'. And on the "third" hand, W9 included panty raid but WNWD did not. Examples like these could be multiplied to show that while the principles of selection are more or less established (neither of these dictionaries omitted postpone and neither listed garmenture), there are many borderline cases and many instances in which these two dictionaries complement each other. The only entry which seems to me to be superfluous in W9 is Mexican Spanish, which is a transparent collocation. Why, of all the glottonyms of this kind (Canadian English, Brazilian Portuguese, Argentine Spanish, etc.) W9 chose this one is puzzling. On the other hand, because the lexeme touches on a controversial subject, it is easy to understand why W9 listed Black English 'a nonstandard dialect of English held to be spoken by many American blacks'. l Both W9 and WNWD have, curiously, gardyloo (an interjection formerly used in Edinburgh when it was customary to throw slops from the windows into the streets). Were the word still current, one could at least argue that it should be included in a dictionary this size because visitors to that city might have to look it up (presumably after the fact). Could it be that gardyloo! is still found in literature? 2 2. Not a Family Dictionary The family dictionary (= dictionary not containing "obscene" or "vulgar" usages) may be on its way out in the United States. W9 devotes seventeen lines to fuck and fuck up, twelve to shit, five explicit ones to coitus, six to bullshit, and a total of twenty-six to cocksucker, horseshit, cunt, pussy, son of a bitch, piss off, motherfucker, frig, and sixty-nine (to name only the more prominent members of this class). It is good that such items, once available only in specialized dictionaries, have now been given in a general dictionary (OEDS is doing the same), but it remains to be 202Reviews seen how Middle America will react. The dust jacket of W9 tells us that it is the "the newest in the famous Collegiate series, the most...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 200-235
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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