nomconjobj: MWDEU

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton2 at BTINTERNET.COM
Fri Feb 19 23:25:02 UTC 2010

I was in the process of composing what was turning into an unconscionably
long reply to Arnold's original post when I realised that I could save time,
and not trespass too far on the list's and Arnold's patience, by condensing
all down to a question and an observation.

So to Arnold in particular, and perhaps the list in general ...

>  no one has thought to look at a standard
> reference on the subject, namely MWDEU's excellent entry on "between
> you and I".  no one should be posting here on a topic that's treated
> in MWDEU without first consulting that reference work.

What relation does _Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage_ bear to
the Burchfield reversioning of Fowler's _Modern English Usage_ (originally
_A Dictionary [sic] of Modern English Usage_)?

(Arnold's implicit characterisation of it would seem to site it with Fowler
rather than Burchfield as a prescriptive rather than a descriptive text, but
I may simply be reading too much into what may be no more than a sheer
coincidence of titles, and MWDEU, which I confess I haven't read and don't
yet possess, may bear no relation to anything which was ever appealed to in
England as holy writ over English usage, "according to Fowler".)

> whenever i say this, people whine piteously that IT'S NOT AVAILABLE ON-
> LINE, as if they're incapable of gaining access to the volume.

True, but equally irritating if not more so is when Tenured Academics
cheerfully and without qualification refer to something as "available
online", when they are referring to JSTOR, MUSE, EEBO, ECCO, etc., failing
to realise that these are virtually inaccessible to Independent Scholars.

The situation has reached such an extreme, at least in the United Kingdom,
that a recently retired friend spent the final six months of his tenure
negotiating specifically for this issue to be included in his retirement
package.  That it took six months for this to be worked out (turning mostly
on the baroque licensing arrangements of most on-line academic resources
restricting these to "students and members of staff" of an institution) says
something, as does the fact that my friend felt it worth the time and effort
to dig his heels in and hold out for this.  (He was finally successful.)

The phrase, "access to a library", is no longer, if it ever was, either
transparent or uncontentious.


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