Joanne M. Despres jdespres at MERRIAM-WEBSTER.COM
Fri Apr 5 23:40:26 UTC 2002

I'd like to second what Jesse says about the value of much of the
historical information Barry Popik submits to this list.  Obviously,
M-W would make use of a much narrower range of this material
than OED does -- first of all because we're dealing with a more
limited range of vocabulary, and secondly because we don't have
the luxury of reporting such detailed historical data as non-
naturalized English-context uses of foreignisms --  but the
information is still very much required reading for the work we do.
As Jesse points out, usages that can't strictly be considered first
occurrences can still shed light on important issues, such as
where and by what means the language contact might have
occurred that led to a particular borrowing, what early forms a word
might have taken before assuming its current shape, etc.  If nothing
else, information like that can help us to rule out particular
etymological hypotheses or give us leads about where to look for
some missing piece of information.

Does Mr. Popik's work increase the volume of paper on my desk
and the number of hours I have to devote to get this job done right?
Absolutely.  He makes it very difficult for me to stay on top of my
work!  But the more information he throws out there for us to
process, the more gold we're going to be able to sift out.  That's
just the way it is.

Joanne Despres
Merriam-Webster, Inc.

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