Dictionary of Finance and Investment Terms (review)
- Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America
- Dictionary Society of North America
- Number 8, 1986
- pp. 287-293
- Additional Information
Reviews287 Dictionary of Finance and Investment Terms. John Downes and Jordon Elliot Goodman. Woodbury, NY: Barron's, 1985. ? + 495 pp. $6.95. At least two dozen dictionaries covering the topics in this dictionary have been published in the last ten years. These range from topical popularizations such as Hendrickson's Business Talk (1984) to more specialized and technical approaches like Dictionary of International Finance (1985) by Julian Walmsley. Like its competitors, this dictionary is primarily concerned with defining and pays little attention to the words themselves. Matters such as etymology, synonymy, antonymy, and derivation are not dealt with. This category of dictionaries is usually evaluated by specialists in the fields represented by the entries. Rarely is such a work evaluated as a lexicographical product, although each could benefit from such an evaluation. The entries in this dictionary were compared to a test lexicon of financial and investment terms gathered from national print sources (Money, Investor's Daily, Barron's), national television sources (The Financial News Network, Wall Street Week, The Nightly Business Report), and regional television (The Stock Market Observer). In addition, I consulted a sampling of recently published dictionaries of the same type. There are many good things to be said about this book. It is reasonably priced and well-made. Much to its credit, most of the words from the test lexicon can be found in the dictionary and appear to have useful definitions. Also among the good features are the useful charts referring to technical analysis of the stock market. The editors state in the preface that they intend to cover "accounting, consumer and business law, economics, taxation, and other related fields." They do so in a modest 2500 entries that present a useful selection from these fields. Some of the longer articles are up to date and informative. Unlike other dictionaries that have the same goals, this one attempts to combine various related areas of finance in investment and still manage to show which specialized senses belong to which area. Cross-referencing, although deficient in some areas, is used to good advantage. A few of the entries branch to a large number of other related 288Reviews entries, e.g., technical analysis, takeover, stock, but more use of this excellent device is needed. The book has four major problem areas, however: imprecise wording, factual errors, omissions, and organizational deficiencies. These problems will be discussed in order. Since one of the co-editors was (and is) a senior reporter with Money magazine, one is surprised at the clumsy wording of many of this book's definitions. For instance, the first words of a definition occasionally establish an incorrect generic category for the rest of the definition, e.g., a tax shelter is not '[a] method . . . '; a tape is not '[a] service that reports . . . '; a lock box is not '[a] bank service . . . '; closely held is not '[a] corporation Additional problems with wording are due to the omission of articles before nominal entries or "to" before verbal entries, aggravated by the rarity of part-of-speech indicators. It is difficult to distinguish definitions that apply, for instance, to "business" in general, from those that apply to "a business" or "a kind of business." Quite a number of entries begin with "term" meaning word or expression, which can easily be confused with "term" meaning a period of time. Omitting such particles is a common practice in glossaries, but here it confuses the reader. In some instances the definition begins ambiguously as a noun or a verb, as at tender offer 'offer to buy . . . ', which could be 'an offer to buy' or 'to offer to buy'. The third definition of long term is 'bond with a maturity of ten years or longer'. Is the headword a noun or an adjective? It could be a noun, as in "No, I don't want to buy short term bonds, I want long terms." If it is an adjective, the definition should be 'pertaining to a bond with a maturity of ten years or longer'. The definition for long-term financing 'liabilities not repayable in one year and all equity' is not at all clear. One would hope that such a dictionary would accurately reflect...