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Reviewed by:
  • DCHP-2: The Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles, Second Edition ed. by Stefan Dollinger
  • Victoria Neufeldt (bio)
DCHP-2: The Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles, Second Edition, edited by Stefan Dollinger (chief editor) and Margery Fee (associate editor), with the assistance of Baillie Ford, Alexandra Gaylie, and Gabrielle Lim. Vancouver: University of British Columbia, 2017. Free of charge.

It is always good to learn of a new edition of a venerable, valued work of scholarship. The first thing we think of is, how long has it been, anyway, since this book was first published? And the second: what can a new edition mean for an admiring reader of the original? A third thought also comes to mind: what have they done to the previous version to create the new entity? In the case of the Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles, first published in 1967 (Avis et al.; DCHP-1967), with a minor revision in 1991, we have a work that had already been digitized (Dollinger et al. 2013). Further changes and additions would presumably be intended to enhance the work, but we might wonder whether that is all that has been done. Has it merely been tidied up? Or has a wholly different philosophical approach been applied? With these thoughts in mind, we approach our review with trembling and trepidation—but we needn't have worried.

First, some statistics about the new edition (DCHP-2): 1,002 new lexemes, increasing the headword count by about 10 percent; 51,345 newly collected quotations in the Bank of Canadian English (the corpus from which the quotations in the dictionary are drawn), of which 8,713 were selected for inclusion in DCHP-2. The first edition contained 24,753 quotations, which means that the quotation count for the new edition has been increased by about 35 percent. Given the editors' access to data banks not earlier available, I presume that this quotation total includes a good number of antedatings for the entries inherited from DCHP-1967.

Accessing DCHP-2 is simple and the layout of the screen pages makes it easy to use. Finding the information you want about any entry is straightforward, and there are numerous cross-reference links. Of course, when you access a link, you get a different page, in effect losing sight of the content you had been viewing.

DCHP-2 distinguishes all the entries from the original 1967 publication with a disclaimer in large, bold caps, immediately below the headword: "This entry may contain outdated information, terms and [End Page 242] examples." The editors felt it necessary to further make the point with a statement in the introduction:

Quotations in historical dictionaries are selected as examples of language use, not because they contain accurate factual information or support the opinions of editors. Therefore, readers should not assume that they can rely on these quotations as evidence to support any arguments except linguistic ones.

Well put! Such explanations are unfortunately needed because, amazingly, example quotations in dictionaries have found their way into law courts when somebody failed to understand this. That said, of course, a lexicographer ought to consider the outside effect of anything entered in a dictionary and, where feasible, should make the more innocuous choice. Illustrative examples must be chosen for their usefulness as clear and typical examples of the meaning in question, not for their creativity or literary quality.

The content of DCHP-2 can be approached via "Browse Entries," "Search Entries," or "quicksearch" in the menu on the left side of every page. Each of the three approaches yields a different bit of information. For example, with quicksearch you get the headword and any quotations that match the spelling you entered, as well as the first definition if your spelling matches that of a defined headword (but not if you search on a variant spelling); to see more, you click on the "Expand +" or "Go to full entry" link. In addition, the layout of the pages is good (and attractive), making the dictionary as easy and even fun to use as an online reference work can be.

A bonus with the quicksearch feature is that it...


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pp. 242-246
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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