In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews255 German Loanwords in English: An Historical Dictionary. 1994. Ed. J. Alan Pfeffer and Garland Cannon. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. xxxiv + 381 pp. $85.00. German Loanwords in English: An [sic] Historical Dictionary (GLE) byJ. Alan Pfeffer and Garland Cannon (henceforth P & C) aims to be a major revaluation of the German lexical contribution to English. P & C emphasize in dieir introduction (xix) that earlier estimates by Skeat (1910), Serjeantson (1935), and Pyles and Algeo (1982) of German influence on English are grossly inadequate . In place of Serjeantson's list of 77 German loanwords, P & C come up widi a total of 5,380 items. The body of GLE, a dictionary of these 5,380 words containing part-of-speech labels, date of introduction into English, semantic field labels, etymologies, English definitions, and odier information, is preceded by two introductory essays, "An [sic] historical overview by semantic fields" (3-110) and "Linguistic overview" (113-32). The use of"historical dictionary" in the subtide—ifwe understand by "historical dictionary" an arrangement of lexemes accompanied by a chronological display of evidence for dieir use—is misleading . The introductory "Historical overview by semantic fields" contains a rearrangement of die words in die A to Z body of die dictionary by date of introduction into English; diis is the sole element of a historical character in GLE. One's initial impression is diat P & C have brought off a scholarly coup. How is it possible diat so many German loanwords have sneaked in under die noses, so to speak, of past investigators? A quick answer suggests itself from the most cursory look at GLE: the overwhelming majority ofitems in the body ofthe book are either loan translations or Greco-Latin scientific coinages, and hence not obviously ofGerman origin, or else are such patendy German words (Abwehr, Achtung Anschauung augenphüohgie, Ausländer, to cite some entries in the letter A) , diat it is far from obvious that diey are English words. All the items, in fact, are in monolingual English dictionaries, on which P & C have relied almost exclusively in making decisions bodi as to whether a word is etymologically German and as to whether a word is lexically English. The "lexical corpus" (113) from which P & Cs 5,380 items have been drawn, as die authors acknowledge repeatedly, consists solely of the major Anglo-American dictionaries of the past century, in particular die OED and W3, and each entry contains an abbreviation representing the dictionary or dictionaries in which die word was found. (A more accurate subtide for the book dian "Historical Dictionary" would be "Compilation of German Loanwords in English Dictionaries.") Consequendy, the value of GLE is crucially dependent on how P & C utilize dieir sources, and, as it turns out, GLE is a flawed assessment of German lexical influence on English precisely because of the audiors' lack of reflectiveness about what dictionaries contain and how dictionaries etymologize words. On the broadest level, P & C have fallen into difficulties because they have not attended toJames Murray's maxim, in the "General Explanations" preceding the first fascicle ofdie OED, diat "die vocabulary ofa widely diffused and highly cultivated living language is not a fixed quantity circumscribed by definite 256Reviews limits." Vocabulary is by its nature not quantifiable because it expands continually on every occasion that someone writing chooses to write on a subject not previously written about. The knowledge explosion of the last half-millennium, better characterized as a discourse explosion, constandy begets new vocabulary as we have written about and have talked about tilings not previously discussed. The more vocabulary expands, die more a vocabulary list becomes an index of information, and die boundary between an encyclopedia (an index of knowledge ) and a dictionary (an inventory of a language's lexicon) has the potential to blur. In Anglo-American lexicography, this boundary has simply dissolved. Since Murray and the NewEnglish Dictionary, along widi die nearly contemporary Century Dictionary, English dictionaries of the "unabridged" variety have tended to be more and more inclusive of lexical items that other lexicographical traditions —say in France, Germany, or Russia—would consign to encyclopedias. Dictionaries now record, often in scattershot fashion, some portion of the macrolexicon of a language, i.e., the sum total of all lexical...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 255-264
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.