A Fair Road for Stumps: Language Ideologies and the Making of the Dictionary of American English and the Dictionary of Americanisms
- Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America
- Dictionary Society of North America
- Volume 41, Issue 2, 2020
- pp. 25-59
- Additional Information
In 1930, while he was working as an assistant on the Dictionary of American English (DAE) Mitford M. Mathews submitted a dissertation titled Southern Backwoods Diction 1829–1840 to the powers that were at the University of Chicago. It was rejected but supplied the DAE with entries and quotations, and it counts as an important stage of Mathews' apprenticeship. Accounting for what of the dissertation was and was not included in the DAE reveals a clash of language ideologies, British and American, underlying the project and its dictionary product, an impression fortified by Mathews' later manuscript comments and stories of decision-making at the DAE told in the column he contributed to American Speech for a decade, "Of Matters Lexicographical." When Mathews edited the Dictionary of Americanisms, he included eighty-four items excluded from the DAE, a small number given the scopes of the respective dictionaries, but an ideological statement about the importance of specifically American knowledge of American English, nonetheless.