bent in dictionary scope

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 19 19:08:58 UTC 2012


Acknowledging the principle you describe, I think there is a marked
difference in usage between "blue" as a signifier for Yale and "crimson" as
a signifier for Harvard. Yale can be refered to as the Bulldogs or the
Elis; Harvard IS The Crimson. I say this as an "Old Blue".


On Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 11:27 AM, Jesse Sheidlower <jester at> wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jesse Sheidlower <jester at PANIX.COM>
> Subject:      Re: bent in dictionary scope
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 10:54:21AM -0500, David Barnhart wrote:
> > For folks so well understanding of dictionaries, this discussion seems to
> > have blithered on long enough, don't you think?
> >
> > If the OED was perceived by none other than Sir William Craigie as
> somewhat
> > "selective", why would he have felt the necessity of journeying to
> Chicago
> > to undertake _A Dictionary of American English_?  I believe Bradley (a
> > British journalist?) was the one who oversaw [??] the production of the
> B's
> > after critiquing the early fascicles for the letter "A".  So, why
> shouldn't
> > we understand that there is a certain greater attention in a British
> book to
> > British English and a certain other bent towards American in an American
> > book.  I doubt that any one dictionary can succeed in covering to the
> > satisfaction of some people all varieties of English regardless of their
> > color/colour remembering that the sun never sets on the English language.
> But David, that's not what the issue is here, and the people who are
> claiming that this is a British/American thing are missing the point.
> The OED's greater attention to British English is a historical accident,
> and the current OED devotes considerable resources to its coverage of
> American English.
> As I intended to make clear in my previous message, the reason that
> Columbia and Yale are not represented in even the revised OED entry for
> _blue_ is not that OED editors think that these universities are
> unimportant upstarts. It's that you can expect to find examples, quite
> readily, of "old blue" or "rowing blue" or "the dark/light blues" in any
> British newspaper, but there's absolutely zero chance of finding
> equivalent (unexplained) references in any American newspaper. Are they
> in use, somewhere, sometimes? Yes. But these uses are so restricted that
> they don't belong in even a dictionary like the OED. It's not a
> British/American issue--it's just a question of currency.
> Jesse Sheidlower
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