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246_________________________Reviews____________________________ The Barnhart Abbreviations Dictionary. 1995. Ed. Robert K. Barnhart. New York: John Wiley and Sons, xxi + 434 pp. $34.95. English is surely the most investigated language in the world, especially in view of the extensive new-word dictionaries like die Third Barnhart Dictionary ofNew English (1991) and the periodical The Barnhart Dictionary Companion, and die scholarship that they have engendered. Accompanying this dictionary production have come numerous collections of initialisms (Cannon, 1989; Cannon and Rodriguez, 1994). Now comes the most innovative collection to date, compiled from Robert Barnhart's huge language files of contemporary English and built from general interest newspapers, books, magazines, and a wide array of technical publications, besides odier sources. To put his new dictionary in context, we need to make quick comparisons with some other specialized dictionaries. Gale Research, Inc. can probably be said to have initiated the modern production with their small Acronyms Dictionary in 1960. A random check of a middle page of the Barnhart items beginning widi A- (p. 15, which contains 52 entries) shows diat this first Gale book has only 19 of these items, mainly because of post-1960 coinings. A middle page of Barnhart's ??-words (p. 177, containing 68 items) shows 17 duplications in Gale, widi implicit revelation in Barnhart of the widened use of NFC 'not favorably considered' (Air Force terminology) and NFR 'no further requirement' (military term), because Barnhart does not restrict their usage. By 1994, the Gale production reached the 19th edition ofAcronyms, Initialisms &fAbbreviations Dictionary, comprised of three volumes totaling 3,970 pages and a 247-page Supplement tided New Acronyms, Initialisms and Abbreviations (with 29,000 new items). Moreover, diese mammoth repositories are said to generally exclude names of local businesses or associations, local units of government, and odier terms in limited use, diough retaining obsolete terms for their historical utility. Virtually all the 120 items sampled from Barnhart are in the 1994 Gale book, which lacks the elaborations that Barnhart sometimes provides. As it is unfair to compare Gale's otiierwise comprehensive quantities, die comparable Abbreviations Dictionary (1994), Ralph De Sola's widely used collection , now in its ninth edition, can bejuxtaposed. His 1,347 pages almost triple Barnhart's length and evidently include the great majority of Barnhart's items besides numerous others. Peter Wennrich's Anglo-American and German Abbreviations in Data Processing (1984) lists about 35,000 items collected over several years from 100 international German- and English-language journals and standards, but diis German-based collection is so specialized diat it duplicates only four of Barnhart's 120 items in the A- to N-sample pages. The OED2 (1989) is also hardly comparable, despite die size of the twenty volumes. Only six of Barnhart's 120 A-and N-items appear in the initialisms section. The two volumes in the Oxford Englüh Dictionary Additions Series (1992-1993) duplicate none. Barnhart's book is particularly important because he has been the first to use large files ofcontemporary English in his collecting, thereby assuring that die items are actually being used today (many in Gale are admittedly no longer Reviews247 used). These files permitted him to determine the preferred forms, usually involving periods (CEIF or C.E.I.F.) or capitalization (centy. or Centy.; cemf or CEMF). There are no dates in his entries, in contrast with his new-word dictionaries , but dates were probably not needed, because the evidence is from current English. The book begins with a valuable, nontechnical essay, "Abbreviation in English" (xiii-xxi) , which reminds us that initialisms remain a marginal element of English. The essay guides the reader toward borrowings within the corpus : Latin i.e., French RSVP, Italian GT 'Gran Turismo', German flak 'Fliegerabwehrkanone', Russian tokamak 'toroidálnaya kámera s magnitnym pólem' [='toroidal magnetic chamber'], and Spanish torn, 'tomo' (also Latin tomus) . This essay contains the best analysis to date of die style of modern initialisms , especially the use of periods and other marks of punctuation, and capitalization vs. lowercase. Barnhart's initialisms are complemented by a listing alphabetized according to the full names. Thus if one does not know the abbreviation of compatible single side-band transmission, a check...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 246-248
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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