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  • Editorial
  • Edward Finegan

This issue of Dictionaries is my last as editor, and toward the end of the editorial I'll offer some personal comments. First, a few words about the contents of the issue.

Two articles undertake forms of forensic dictionary analysis. Javier Ruano-García continues his deep dive into Wright's English Dialect Dictionary, focusing here on the contributions of correspondents, especially women, in particular Angelina Parker. Relying crucially on the EDD Online and on manuscript evidence, Ruano-García uncovers the indispensable contributions Parker made to the EDD's Oxfordshire data. The article sheds welcome light on the important, but often overlooked, role women have played in the lexicographical enterprise.

In a forensic foray of a different kind, Michael Adams explores the relationship between Mitford Mathews and Sir William Craigie in the making of the Dictionary of American English. Adams puts under the microscope eighty-four items Mathews added to his later Dictionary of Americanisms, reinstated from a dissertation he had submitted to the University of Chicago but that did not find a place in Craigie's DAE. The conflicts between OED veteran editor Craigie and the culturally proud and much younger Mathews is a compelling story of conflicting ideologies and of identity lexicography.

In their article, Don Chapman, Amanda Fronk, and Mark Davies explore whether dictionaries or corpora have been more effective in identifying earliest citations. They compare the earliest dating of particular senses of seventy-five denominal verbs like earmark and upgrade in twenty monolingual American dictionaries and in the Corpus of Historical American English. Their findings indicate that neither the dictionaries nor the 400-million-word COHA invariably outperforms the [End Page ix] other, and they conclude that reading programs and citation files continue to be valuable reservoirs of data in dictionary making.

The forum on vernacular lexicographies, with seven articles illustrating quite different views and approaches to the topic, is introduced by Orión Montoya, who reports being drawn to the far side of the "implicit boundary" between "real" and "lay" lexicography detected in my invitation to initiate a forum on the topic. "Who is in a position to police these borders, and how?" Montoya asks. What possibilities arise in lexicography "by looking beyond the 'essentially monumental' to consider the whole assemblage of 'domestic and functional' practices by which people grapple with meaning together? How might we understand our own lexicographical practices from that broader viewpoint?" Given Montoya's comments on individual contributions in the introduction, I need say here only that the articles are delightfully wide-ranging, touching on T-shirts and coffee mugs, on Urban Dictionary and the OED, on Polish, Spanglish, and Old English, on artists' dictionaries, talking dictionaries, and anti-dictionaries, and on demons, devils, and unicorns, as well as on the key role lay lexicography and its lexicographers play in preserving knowledge of vernacular language and culture for posterity.

The year 2020 has been a difficult one around the world, and Covid-19 took the life of Madeline Kripke, a Fellow of the Dictionary Society of North America. Jonathon Green's remembrance of her is laden with fascinating and sometimes earthy details about "the dame of dictionaries" and her fabled collection. I'm grateful to David Jost, editor of DSNA's Newsletter, for allowing Green to republish his obituary in the journal.

In the reviews section, Michael Adams assesses three works—Origin of Kibosh, The Life of Guy, and On the Study of Words, the last a revival of the famous Richard Chenevix Trench's nineteenth-century work. It was Trench who famously said that "in words contemplated singly, there are boundless stores of moral and historic truth, and no less of passion and imagination, laid up." Today, in an era when etymology and any focus on "words contemplated singly" has lost its glow in academic circles, Adams praises the other two books he reviews, each focusing on a single word, namely kibosh and guy. Don Chapman in his review of Describing Prescriptivism praises especially the book's treatment of the history of usage guides. In the third review, D. A. Lockhart observes that "We could stand, with little controversy, upon the principle that the two most...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. ix-xii
Launched on MUSE
2020-12-17
Open Access
No
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