Re: American Heritage Dictionary

Subject: Re: American Heritage Dictionary
From: Stephen Bernhardt <sbernhar -at- NMSU -dot- EDU>
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 1994 13:45:21 -0700

On Sat, 29 Jan 1994, Craig Haggart, Accelerator Ops wrote:

> 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?

> And keep in mind that your chosen spot on the prescriptive/descriptive
> language continuum will color your view of reference material.

Craig's right--it's an old argument about what a dictionary should be. If
we want a purely descriptive work, we wouldn't have usage panels. I would
argue that we do want careful lexicographic scholarlship to inform our
dictionaries, not carry over definitions from previous editions. I, too,
enjoy the usage panel, and I have a brand new edition of the AH dictionary
on my desk. I think it is ok to be aware polite usage and bias in
language use, if only to know what some others object to.

> Stephen A. Bernhardt >
> Department of English, Box 3E >
> New Mexico State University >
> Las Cruces, NM 88003 >
> 505-646-2027 FAX 505-646-7725 >
> e-mail sbernhar -at- nmsu -dot- edu >

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