UK papers and language

Frank Abate abatefr at EARTHLINK.NET
Thu Aug 24 14:03:44 UTC 2000

Lynne M said from the UK:

It really is a joy to see how much
writing is done about language in the newspapers here (if you read the right
Reflections on words, dictionaries, etymologies.

This picks up on a tendency that's well known to US publishers.  It is VERY
hard to get any US paper, or even the widely read reviewing publications, to
agree to publish a review for a reference book, esp. a general dictionary.
Even the NYT Book Review will not, except perhaps for a major new edition of
one of the established dicts.  In the UK, the TLS regularly reviews ref
books and general dicts, as do the similar reviewing pubs from other papers.

I have never understood this, but it's true.  Moreover, Publishers Weekly,
the best known trade publication in the business, completely ignores ref
books, as if they do not exist.  They feel that reviews of these are to be
done by their partner mag, Library Journal, which of course is only read by
librarians and the few publishers who cater to them.

It is a disservice to the US book-buying community.  You have to really look
hard to find accurate and reliable info on which dictionary to choose, and
how they differ.  Ken Kister did a great job with this for many years, but
his work is not widely known outside the library and ref editorial world (a
pretty small world, to be sure).

Frank Abate

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