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Antedating Primarily Arabic Loans in English Garland Cannon James A.H. Murray, the famous editor of the OxfordEnglish Dictionary (OED, 1933), estimated that three-quarters of the entries could be antedated by a half-century (Murray 516). Motivated by this estimate, Jürgen Schäfer checked most of the Shakespeare and Nashe citations in the OED and discovered that about a third could be predated by at least a few decades. However, his overall projection was that only about 29,000 of the 240,000 main entries (12.08%) could be antedated by a half-century (Schäfer 67, 45). Antedating studies do far more than test the reliability of firstknown dates given in dictionaries and cite the corrected dates, as will be seen in this article based on data found by the author's reading program . The purpose is to date or predate the 2,338 main entries in Cannon 's 1994 Arabic book that collected these loans from general English dictionaries. The program discovered six older items for the Arabic corpus, adding them to our antedatings because their citations constitute "first" dates. We had to reject a few multiply occurring items like birket 'pond' and dayr 'convent', because they were not recorded in standard dictionaries. Though frequently used by British travelers in the Middle East and Africa over several centuries, birket and dayrwere evidently confined to works with Asian settings like travel books and do not meet the additional criterion of appearance in a variety of works (see Paton 1995). The reading program also discovered many unique appearances of items not recorded in general collections. So dictionaries were justified in excluding all but the six items that we have added to the 1994 corpus. Procedurally, once we extracted all the antedatings discovered by the program, the obsolete and/or encyclopedic items were identified . These items are so termed because lexicographers have found their usage to be somewhat less limited than that of items appearing 98Garland Cannon solely in specialized dictionaries like Hughes's Islamic one (1973) and have added them to some unabridged dictionaries to accommodate readers who may want some specialized content. A century ago, major works like The Century Dictionary (CD), subtitled An Encycbpedic Lexicon, were including numerous words of restricted currency like Al Araf 'Sufi mystic contemplation'. Merriam-Webster initially narrowed the CD practice by introducing a small-type "pearl" section at the bottom of each page of Wl (1909) to contain "minor words, foreign words and phrases [i.e., wholly unadapted items], abbreviations, etc.," so as to exclude "mere variants, and less-common and less looked-for terms" from the dictionary proper (vi). A lengthy "Pronouncing Gazetteer and Pronouncing Biographical Dictionary" concluded the single volume. W2 (1934) retained the pearl section but interpolated into the dictionary proper many of the geographical and biographical names, as well as other encyclopedic -type names. But by 1961 Merriam-Webster, still constrained to a single volume, adopted the principle of the OED and abandoned its own encyclopedic policy: so W3 excluded purely biographical and geographical names, obsolete terms and senses, and the pearl section (Morton 1994, 94, 97), in contrast to the Random HouseDictionary ofthe English Language (RHDEL 1987), which incorporated many encyclopedic -type items. Our identification of such items was straightforward. All that were recorded only in the CD, Wl, W2, and/or RHDEL were checked to see whether the sense is principally encyclopedic. As it developed, all the identified 191 items are encyclopedic-type; none is obsolete. They are listed in Appendix 2 and can be considered as deleted from the 1994 book. The deletion may not be permanent, because the first two volumes of the Oxford Addition Series (OED-AS, 1993-) have already added 14 Arabic items to the OED materials, all of which will be added to OED3, projected for 2010. Three are previously unpublished entries that would havejoined our 191 deletions except for their introduction in OED-AS: Id al-Adha 'Muslim festival', Tanzimat 'Ottoman edict', and 'umrah 'pilgrimage'. No doubt others will be so validated by their publication in OED3. It should be noted that some of the 1994 items can only be loosely considered as Arabic, as words in general dictionaries...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 97-123
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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