Another Q on lexicographical sources

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Sun Apr 7 13:09:05 UTC 2002

>Although much (much) more frequently used to indicate a popular beer.


>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

Dennis R. Preston
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics and Languages
740 Wells Hall A
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027 USA
Office - (517) 353-0740
Fax - (517) 432-2736

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