Ayto's 20th CENTURY WORDS; Safire; Amazon.com

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Sun Nov 28 13:51:47 UTC 1999

On Sat, 27 Nov 1999 Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:

>       To get all this stuff wrong, Ayto would have to:  (1) not read the OED
> files, (2) not read the RHHDAS, (3) not read Comments on Etymology, (4) not
> read Gerald Cohen's STUDIES IN SLANG, (5) not read AMERICAN SPEECH,and (6)
> not read ADS-L.

I have been working intensively with Ayto's book for the last few weeks,
and it appears that for the most part he relied on the published volumes
of the OED and the OED Addition Series, rather than on the OED files.
There are many instances where I have sent the OED earlier evidence than
what Ayto cites as his dating.  He probably drew on the OED files only for
recent words not in OED or OEDAS.

I find Ayto's book to be pretty good, but its two major shortcomings are
(1) failure to provide cutting-edge information for datings, and (2) an
excessive British emphasis.  By "British emphasis" I mean not only a bias
toward Briticisms in coverage of vocabulary, but also a tone in the
commentaries that is meant to poke fun at pretentiousness and hypocrisy,
but that will strike Americans as arch.

Fred R. Shapiro                             Coeditor (with Jane Garry)
Associate Librarian for Public Services     TRIAL AND ERROR: AN OXFORD
  and Lecturer in Legal Research            ANTHOLOGY OF LEGAL STORIES
Yale Law School                             Oxford University Press, 1998
e-mail: fred.shapiro at yale.edu               ISBN 0-19-509547-2

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