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"Mixed" Etymologies of Middle English Items in OED3: Some Questions of Methodology and Policy T1 Philip Durkin 1Ws paper will examine in some detail how a certain category of etymology which is particularly frequent in the Middle English period is treated in the third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED3), and will also look more briefly at how such etymologies are treated in the first edition of the OED (OEDl) and in the Middle English Dictionary (MED). It may therefore be as well to state at the outset that it is not the intention of this paper to draw comparisons between the practice of each dictionary in this area, still less to attempt to assess the relative merits of each, but rather to take note of how OED3's policy in this area, as in many others, has been informed by that of its predecessors, and in particular to note how documentation presently available, not least that provided by MED, makes new possibilities available to OED3.1 It may be as well also to explain briefly what is meant by the third edition of the OED. The first edition of the dictionary was issued in fascicles between 1884 and 1928,2 with a one- volume supplement in 1933. In 1989 an integrated, second edition was produced (OED2), bringing together in one sequence the main dictionary and its four- 'For an overview of the relationship between OEDl, OED3 and the period dictionaries see John Simpson's contribution in this volume (pages 1-15). 2The dictionary was at first issued under the title A New English Dictionary on Historical Principhs (hence often referred to as NED) , being renamed formally The Oxford English Dictionary on its reissue in 1933. Dictionaries:Journal ofthe Dictionary Society ofNorth America 23 (2002) "Mixed" Etymologies of Middle English Items in OED3143 volume Supplement of 1972-1986. Almost all Middle English vocabulary in the dictionary was already included in the first edition, and appeared essentially unrevised in 1989. Work has now been going on for several years on the third edition of the OED, which will ultimately provide the first ever full, top-to-bottom, revision of the dictionary, and the preliminary results of the OED3 revision work are being published in quarterly releases of at present a little over 1000 entries per quarter, giving at time of writing just over 6000 published revised entries in alphabetical sequence from M, where revision work began, to Memsahib, and it is from this alphabetical range that my examples will be drawn here. The term "mixed etymology" might be taken to refer to either of two distinct categories of etymology. First, there are the etymologies of what one might term "hybrid" words, resulting from the merger in English of two words of quite distinct etymologies; for example, sixteenth -century English mien 'die look, bearing, or manner of a person', which has normally been explained as showing an aphetic form of the word demean merged witii a loan from die totally unrelated French word mine 'appearance'. These will not form the focus of this paper. Instead, I will examine here the far more common class of items where the further etymology of a word or at least of its component parts is not in doubt, but where the immediate transmission into English is uncertain. In some cases considerations of form provide a relatively easy answer to such questions, or at least a partial answer. Take, for instance , the word malachite. A comparison of the etymologies presented respectively in the first (and second) editions and in the third is instructive:3 malachite n., [OED second edition, etymology only]: [a. OF. melochite, F. malachite, ad. L. *malachïtês, molochïtës, Gr. *µa?a??t??, *µ?????t??, a stone (perh. our malachite) resembling the leaf of the mallow in colour, f. µa????, µ????? the mallow.] malachite n., [OED third edition, variant forms and etymology only] : Forms: a. ME melochites, molochites, 16-17 malachites, 17 molochites . ß. IME melochyte, 15 molochite, 15-16 melochite, 16 malachite , 17 malachquite. 3AIl quotations are taken from OED Online (www.oed.com); hence for unrevised material the second edition of 1989 is cited. 144Philip Durkin [ MART n?; Dutch markt), Old Saxon...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 142-155
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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