FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE ITS INITIAL APPEARANCE IN 1979, Dictionaries is published here in a second issue of its annual volume. That’s a notable advance for the journal, and other changes are under discussion. Still, the core values, functions, and structure of the journal remain steady, and you’ll find articles, book reviews, and reports of reference works in progress here, as usual.
While the value of older dictionaries in tracing the semantic evolution of words is well known, their usefulness in aid of phonological evolution is less so. In an article highlighting the utility of eighteenth-century dictionaries and orthoepic treatises in tracing the history of particular sounds, Nicolas Trapateau explores the complex history of unstressed vowels in English words. Relying on a digitized copy of John Walker’s 1791 Pronouncing Dictionary and on other contemporary works, he notes that eighteenth-century pronunciations of unstressed syllables (with a focus on the five common word endings -al, -age, -ile, and -or and -er) were influenced by spelling and “subject to severe sociolinguistic pressures.” To compensate for information typically lacking in the prefaces of earlier dictionaries and to “give access to a real phonological vision—to pronunciation as a system at a given time in history,” Trapateau demonstrates how exploitation of digitized dictionaries will be of great help.
In a proposal especially useful at a time when digital lexicography continues to evolve, Danko Šipka argues that two kinds of specialized subject-matter labels should be systematically incorporated into underlying lexicographic databases. Already commonly deployed are exodistinctive labels, which mark lexemes (or senses) restricted to a particular field (as with hypotension and ventricular fibrillation in medicine and strike in baseball). By contrast, not commonly or systematically [End Page vii] applied are the more encompassing endoprofiling labels, which mark lexemes and senses characteristic of a subject-matter field but not limited to that field and perhaps also part of the general vocabulary (as with blood pressure, hypotension, and ball). Items marked by an exodistinctive label would constitute a subset of those marked with the same endoprofiling label, and the latter would exist solely in the underlying database structure, not in the visible dictionary entry. Not every dictionary would need both label types, but at a time when unanticipated uses are being made of lexicographic databases and when NLP and certain instructional purposes have need of endoprofiling labels, their more systematic deployment and better access through effective user interfaces would be of significant utility.
In the Reference Works in Progress section, Lynda Mugglestone describes a project to digitize and annotate the extensive notebooks and other unpublished writings of Andrew Clark from the period 1914 to 1919. Her report describes and illustrates the kinds of linguistic and cultural insights contained in the Words in War-Time materials, as well as Clark’s contributions to, and comments about, the OED. Mugglestone concludes that, “vested in Clark’s committed industry and his dedication to lexicography as a form of living, and highly liberal, history,” Words in War-Time can “provide a robust—and fascinating—rebuttal” to stereotypes, both popular and scholarly, about language in WWI.
In another Reference Works in Progress report, David-Antoine Williams describes a project to annotate the background coded text of the OED with metadata identifying various features of the more than 2.4 million quotations in OED2 that are not now systematically accessible through the dictionary’s Web interface. These features include the gender of quoted authors, the genre of the text from which a quotation comes, and the edition of the dictionary in which a quotation first appears, all matters about which scholars have sought systematic information. Still other features valuable in meeting scholarly interests are under development in the project.
In the reviews section, Antonette dePaolo Healey, who co-authored an article in the very first issue of the journal, gives her appraisal of The Oxford Handbook of Lexicography. She says that editor Philip Durkin’s collection “will become the authoritative standard by which all handbooks of lexicography are judged” and that its “insights are so rich and [End Page viii] deep that students, scholars, and practitioners at every level will find something of...