Rudolph C Troike rtroike at U.ARIZONA.EDU
Mon Apr 1 09:33:52 UTC 2002

I enjoy Barry Popik's travel reports from around the world and from
printed sources through time, but I am concerned that much of his effort
in the latter realm is not effectual, since reports in English (original
or translated) from exotic places, detailing local ethnographic facts, do
not seem to me to meet the ordinary lexicographical criteria for attesting
to the earliest occurrence of a form in actual English usage. If
occurrence of a word in a work written in English is sufficient to include
it in the OED, then I hope that the OED editors are ready to solicit
members of the American Anthropological Association with a request to
scour all of the ethnographies written in the past century and a half for
all of the local words from other languages ever cited in an ethnography.
The results should swell the size of the OED files enormously, but to
questionable purpose.
        "Rathskeller" drew my attention since Marckwardt lists this as an
Americanism, i.e. as a word that entered English in the US, borrowed from
German immigrants of the 1848 influx or possibly earlier from Pennsylvania
Germans ("Dutch"). If Barry's documentation (and other similar ones from
elsewhere) is adopted, this would potentially wipe out consideration of
when and where a non-English word actually entered English usage. I'd like
to see some discussion by our lexicographer list-members about this issue,
since their criteria are likely to affect how historians of the language
interpret dates published in dictionaries in the future.


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