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Reviews139 The Penguin Canadian Dictionary. 1990. Thomas M. Paikeday. Markham and Mississauga, Ont.: Penguin Books Canada/Copp Clark Pitman, xviii + 852 pp. $19.95 U.S. This "Canadian" dictionary fills a need beyond the borders of Canada . One is reminded that when, over a span of twenty-eight years, Noah Webster changed his plan from A Dictionary of the American Language to An American Dictionary of the English Language, the resulting dictionary was well received in England. The cover of The Penguin Canadian Dictionary (PCD) is stamped with an emblem which reads: "100% Canadian Content." However, the sprinkling of Canadianisms and the Canadian orthography fail to measurably alter the solid core of international English contained in the PCD. For whom is this dictionary intended? "The users of this dictionary," the compiler, Thomas M. Paikeday, says in the User's Guide, p. xiii, "is assumed to have attained the primary-school (Grade 6) level of reading and speaking English." The PCD, in fact, is a general-purpose dictionary destined to serve many age groups and users of different regional backgrounds. It serves users who do not need etymology or historical meanings but wish merely to find the meanings and usage of current speech. How useful is this dictionary? Let us consider a number of lexicographical areas and problems: (1) the theory; (2) the indication of pronunciation ; (3) the word list; (4) ostensive treatment; (5) group defining; (6) definitions; (7) part-of-speech labeling; (8) transitive and intransitive functions. 1. The Theory The theory of this dictionary is that lexical meaning must be provided by examples in which nuances of meaning will presumably be perceived, along with grammar, style, and level of speech. Paikeday's rubric appearing on p. vi, "The Baby and the Bathwater" sums up this method: when he has to omit, he considers the definitions the "bathwater," the examples the "baby." The definitions themselves are often no more than an introductory identifying rubric. The examples are asked to carry the burden of usage labeling, subject labeling, and even part-of-speech labeling (see section 7). Furthermore, they are able to share with the definition much of the semantic burden. For example, the definition of speak is "utter or express something using language " immediately followed by seventeen lines of examples (and phrasal variations with examples) that have no formal definitions. Both the "defining " strategy and the "exemplifying" strategy can be seen in the following two short entries (typeface styles are those of the dictionaries quoted): gor*geous (GOR«jus) adj. splendid, esp. in a colourful way: trees in gorgeous fall colours; gorgeous weather; a gorgeous day, sunset; Isn't she gorgeous!fifty gorgeous dancers kicking on the stage. 140Reviews pit«y (PIT»ee) ?. 1. sorrow for another's suffering: to arouse,feel, show pity; Have or Take pity on a poor beggar; pityfor the poor; I gave her my money out ofpity; a sense ofpity; For pity's sake, be kind to animab. 2. a cause for regret: What a pity we lost! —v. pit'ies, pit-ied, pit*y*ing feel pity for someone: We pity the homeless.— pit*y*ing«Iy adv. The examples here contain collocations and idioms that are fresh, vigorous , and colorful. The forty or fifty thousand illustrative examples and idiomatic constructions that constitute the heart of this book are its chief virtue. They make up the Saussurean parole, the actual speech of English-speaking peoples at the end of this millennium. They will be valuable to future historians as repositories of contemporary North American English. 2. The Indication of Pronunciation Paikeday's user-friendly system of pronunciation is consonant with the style of the rest of the dictionary, which "is designed for use without explanatory notes, pronunciation keys, and such aids. The user should be able to pick up the dictionary 'cold' and find the desired information ifit is within the scope of the book" (xii). By using readily understandable combinations of syllables , his practice is as far removed as possible from symbols intrinsically unrelated to the sounds, as such symbols certainly are in diacritical systems or in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). In the Preface (viii) under the rubric "The Emperor's New...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 139-146
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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