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Pronunciation Donald M. Lance Xn discussing the pronunciation policy of The Century Dictionary, it is important to include, for historical perspective, an examination of prefaces and pronunciation guides in the 1850 and 1882 editions of TL· Imperial Dictionary and the 1859, 1864, and 1890 editions ofthe Webster dictionary published by G. & C. Merriam Company. The 1849 Preface of the Imperial states that "Webster's dictionary . . . forms the basis of the present work" (ii), and the 1889 Preface of the Century states that the publisher's design in 1882 was "to adapt The Imperial Dictionary to American needs" (v). Successive major editions of the Imperial and Webster dictionaries introduced major changes in their pronunciation guides when new editorial staffs evolved as faithful lexicographers passed from the scene after decades of diligent labor. (Primary sources for this article are the prefaces and pronunciation guides of several editions of these three major dictionaries in the Cordell Collection at Indiana State University in Terre Haute.) In the early editions of the Imperial, following Noah Webster, pronunciation was indicated by means of "pointed letters" that employed the conventional spelled form(s) of each word. When the pronunciation of a word was "attended with any difficulty" (e.g., enough), a respelling with "pointed letters" was placed to the right of the headword in the entry (The Imperial 1850, iii). The early editions ofthe Imperial were edited byJohn Ogilvie (1797-1867). In the 1882 edition, produced under the supervision of Charles Annandale after the headquarters of Blackie and Son had apparently moved from Glasgow to London, the editors made a major change in the way in which pronunciation was indicated . Beginning with this edition, each entry included the conventional spelling(s) ofthe word and a "rewriting of the word in a different form" (emphasis in original) so that "the same letter or combination of ________________The Century Dictionary: Pronunciation______________69 letters is made use of for the same sound, no matter by what letter or letters the sound may be expressed in the principal word" (vii). Figure 1 shows the "pointed letters" employed in the 1850 Imperial and 1864 Webster dictionaries. In this system, when the same sound is represented by different written symbols, it is necessary to have more than one symbol to represent the same sound, e.g., a macron over an a in words likefateand two dots under an ¿in words like prey and eight. (The Webster pronunciation guide in figure 1 accompanies "Principles of Pronunciation," which was prepared by Chauncey A. Goodrich for the 1859 edition published by Merriam and then "carefully revised and much expanded" by William A. Wheeler for the 1864 edition [Webster 1864,v].) When the editors began planning the Century in 1882, they also chose to use the same symbol to represent the same sound regardless of spelling, but the 1889 Preface in the first published volume makes no specific comment on this departure from earlier lexicographical practices . Their rationale surely derives from the view of language that Editor-in-Chief William Dwight Whitney and other 19th-century linguists held, namely, that the term "language" applies to "utterance, and utterance only": "[Ljanguage ... is die body of uttered and audible signs by which in human society thought is principally expressed, gesture and writing being its subordinates and auxiliaries" (Whitney 1875, 2). Whitney is listed as the editor of both spelling and pronunciation (TL· Century Dictionary 1889, 1895, iii). The Webster dictionaries published by G. & C. Merriam Company did not adopt the new practice until the 1890 edition, for which Samuel Porter of the National Deaf-Mute College in Washington, D.C, and Samuel W. Barnum of Yale College directed the department of pronunciation and for which Barnum devised a new system for marking pronunciation. Noah Porter, supervising editor, also wrote a detailed essay on pronunciation, after "a careful and long-continued study of Phonology in the phonological method pursued by Mr. Alexander Melville Bell" (Webster 1890, iv). The later system, employing a set of symbols each unique to a vowel or a consonant sound regardless of spelling, is shown in figure 2, listing the pronunciation symbols used in the 1882 Imperial and 1889 Century dictionaries. A popular belief is that the dictionary that Noah...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 68-78
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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