A word of caution about the OED's "Advanced search results"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon May 2 16:02:19 UTC 2011

Using Advanced search for "book-shelf", the following quotation shows
up in the "Advanced search results" list --

1483    Cath. Angl. 97   A Deske; pluteus a book-shelf, book-case, desk.

But one cannot conclude that "book-shelf" and "book-case" date from
1483.  One has to go to the quotation itself, which is in the entry
for "desk, n.", to find that there are square brackets present:

1483    Cath. Angl. 97   A Deske; pluteus [a book-shelf, book-case, desk].

I am informed that "The results that appear when you do that kind of
a search aren't detailed, and have various kinds of formatting
stripped out. You'd have to look at the original to see the actual text."

My correspondent might even have meant by "the original" not just
look at the quotation where it appears in an an entry in the OED, but
actually in the book itself!  :-))

Here, of course, one can't tell from the OED whether the brackets are
those of the writer of Cath. Angl. or some later editor.  Do I smell
a problem similar to our complaints about Google Books?


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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