Another Q on lexicographical sources

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Apr 6 21:22:42 UTC 2002

I'm sure my concepts are callow: I'm no lexicographer. But I'll try a
thought-experiment. I visit Japan, drink Kirin beer, and note that the
label shows a kirin, a Japanese mythical beast analogous to a unicorn. I
also go to the zoo in Japan. When I return, I publish an account of my
impressions of Japan, in which I note that in Japan the word "kirin" is
applied to the giraffe at the zoo as well as to the mythical animal. So
there exists a piece of English text including the word "kirin" applied to
a giraffe.

It is my assertion that this does not constitute even slight evidence of an
English word "kirin" meaning "giraffe". If it does, then as Rudy says all
words in Japanese are English words since my remark that "kirin" means
"giraffe" in Japan[ese] is equivalent to a bilingual dictionary entry.
Should "kirin" = "giraffe" later be adopted into English, my publication
could not be cited as evidence of early use of the word in English,
although it might be of historical interest, especially if it was
instrumental in popularizing the word in English.

I would assert however that "kirin" denoting a Japanese mythical animal is
an 'English' word (a word in the English language) -- suitable for
inclusion in a large English dictionary -- since this word is normally
(albeit infrequently) employed in English ... when discussing this mythical

-- Doug Wilson

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