Lexicograophical crimes

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Sat Oct 15 15:25:39 UTC 2011

A couple of years ago, I tried to arouse ADS-L to use its moral authority to
intimidate OUP into moving on with HDAS, vol. P-Z.  Let me try again.  OUP
has no doubt fully incorporated JL's corpus of citations into its files, so
they have gotten the key benefit from having acquired the rights to the
material.  If they don't foresee profiting from publishing P-Z in book form,
then let them release the publishing rights back to JL.  If they do suppose
that they might break even at least, or if they feel an obligation to
scholarship and to JL, then let them publish it.

If I thought that the OED was making extensive use in its revision of the
material JL gathered, I would sit down and shut up.  But it isn't.
The history of slang is important in social and cultural history.  The
history of American slang is only properly documented in HDAS.  The OED is
not interested in fully documenting American English of any register.  If a
word or sense is originally and primarily American, then OK.  But if a word
is English, then the OED doesn't care to show when the word migrated to the
U. S.    I grant that no one much cares who the first American was to use
the word "cow".  But a number of years ago, Gerry Cohen kindly published for
me a lexicon of prize-fighting slang taken from NYC newspapers of the 1810s
& 1820s.  This showed that the fad for prize-fighting among English
gentlemen, with its faddish vocabulary, had moved to the States very
quickly, despite the Embargo and the War of 1812, which is interesting as
(Not just slang, too.  Those whose interests run to more lofty things might
be interested to know when the word "sublime" in the romantic/esthetic sense
was picked up by us colonials.  &c.)

In any event: What can we do to agitate OUP to move one way or another with
the HDAS material they are now content to sit on?


On Sat, Oct 15, 2011 at 9:21 AM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>wrote:

> Thank you, Ron and Dave.
> Everything is in the hands of Oxford, which owns all rights, and has
> all the material necessary to produce letters P through Z, plus the
> bibliography.  We had already arranged, edited, and defined a great
> deal straight through to the end and collected a substantial amount of
> material for an addenda. The online OED revisions currently
> incorporate some of the contents of P-Z.
> The ball is in Oxford's court.
> JL
> On Thu, Oct 13, 2011 at 11:33 PM, Douglas G. Wilson <douglas at nb.net>
> wrote:
> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Poster:       "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>
> > Subject:      Re: Lexicograophical crimes
> >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> >>>
> >>> Arguably, the greatest lexicographical crime of the twentieth century
> >>> in America was the failure to publish the second half of that
> >>> magnificent work of scholarship, RHDAS.
> >> --
> >>
> >> So why hasn't the last part been published? Who owns the rights? Has
> >> the unpublished part of the book (I guess P-Z plus addenda, notes,
> >> etc.?) been drafted, in whole or in part? How much would it cost to
> >> finish it? Are there any plans?
> >>
> >> -- Doug Wilson
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ.
Pr., 1998, but nothing much since then.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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