Lexicography: An Emerging International Profession (review)
- Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America
- Dictionary Society of North America
- Number 8, 1986
- pp. 262-267
- Additional Information
262Reviews Markey, T. L., Robert L. Kyes, and Paul T. Roberge. 1977. Germanic and Its Dialects: A Grammar of Proto-Germanic. III. Bibliography and Indices. Amsterdam, Benjamins. T. L. Markey The University of Michigan Lexicography: An Emerging International Profession. Robert Ilson, ed. The Fulbright Papers: Proceedings of Colloquia, vol. 1. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1986. xiv + 167 pp. If self-reflection is a sign of maturity, lexicography has come of age. To be sure, one assumes (and hopes) that lexicographers have always thought about what they were doing, but following Samuel Johnson's example, they are doing their thinking increasingly in public. In recent years the amount and quality of public self-reflection by lexicographers and about lexicography has increased at such a rate as to suggest the voguish encomium "a quantum leap." Lexicography, ably edited by Robert Ilson, is one of the more recent great leaps forward. It contains the proceedings of the first Fulbright Colloquium, held in London on 13-16 September 1984. The United States-United Kingdom Educational Commission (the Fulbright Commission) is to be congratulated on its decision to devote the first of its colloquia to lexicography in commemoration of the two hundredth anniversary of Dr. Johnson's death and the one hundredth anniversary of the appearance of the first fascicle of the Oxford English Dictionary. The papers in the volume fall into groups dealing principally with the history of lexicography, the academic and professional training of lexicographers, and the nature of dictionaries and of dictionary users. Collectively, they form a coherent overview of some present-day concerns among those who make and study dictionaries. Although the focus of the volume is on English lexicography, the participants at the conference came from Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Reviews263 Kingdom, the United States, and Yugoslavia. Thus the concerns addressed in Lexicography are both current and cosmopolitan. The historical essays begin with N. E. Osselton's "Dr Johnson and the English Phrasal Verb," which argues that Johnson was an innovator when he included in his dictionary verb-adverb combinations like call back, call for, call in, call over, and call out. Osselton takes the publication of Johnson's Plan in 1747 as the beginning of the discipline of lexicography. As he shows, Johnson's work was also in some respects the first of modern dictionaries. Robert Burchfield's essay on "The Oxford English Dictionary " in brief compass sets the OED in historical perspective. He also emphasizes the value of the OED as a record of the changing history of the English vocabulary, including the appearance of new words in our own time, and he explains his editorial policy of including the vocabulary of "our greatest modern writers," even hapax legomena, in the Supplement. The most comprehensive of the historical essays is Allen Walker Read's "The History of Lexicography." Faced with the impossible task of covering that subject in seventeen pages, Read chooses a theme, the rise of the historical outlook in lexicography , and traces it from the first Greek dictionaries through Johnson's Dictionary to the OED. Read treats the subject with his customary thoroughness and his keen eye for absurdities, such as the comment by a writer to the New York Times in 1925 that the projected Historical Dictionary of American English would be "little more than a catalogue of confusions" (43). Dealing with recent history, Robert Ilson compares "British and American Lexicography" in an informative and highly readable analysis of the differences between dictionaries produced in the two countries. American dictionaries are more like one another than British dictionaries are like either one another or, on the whole, their American cousins. Some British dictionaries are American-influenced, either by being based on the text of an American book or by using American lexicographical practice as a model, but generally speaking the two nations produce distinctively different dictionaries. 264Reviews British dictionaries are likely to mark Briticisms as well as Americanisms; American dictionaries mark Briticisms but leave distinctively American uses unmarked. That difference in practice can be seen as a sign of a greater provincialism in the New World, but probably merely reflects marketing facts. British dictionaries seem to be written...