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Stephen Bernhardt wrote:
> ...As I was given it (and I am willing to be corrected by someone
> who knows more than I do) American Heritage does not do similarly
> original lexicographic research, relying instead on the expertise
> of their editors to make decisions about new words and new
> meanings. And they have tended to rely on somewhat conservative,
> well educated experts (not lexicographers) to make pronouncements
> for the usage panel.
To me, lexicographers are supposed to compile and define words. Well-
educated writers, poets, journalists, editors, linguists, and English
professors are EXACTLY the right people to be on a dictionary usage
panel. Who is better suited to describe contemporary language use?
I have a copy of the American Heritage Third Edition, and I like it.
It's not my only dictionary, but it's the one I like best so far.
Besides the usage notes, there are a few very interesting articles at
the front of the book:
"A Natural History of English: Language, Culture, and the American
"The Indo-European Origin of English"
"Usage in the American Heritage Dictionary: The Place of Criticism"
"The Mathematics of Language"
And keep in mind that your chosen spot on the prescriptive/descriptive
language continuum will color your view of reference material.
Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lab at SLAC
Menlo Park, California
(haggart -at- slac -dot- stanford -dot- edu)