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You know, we probably should talk more on this list about such matters as
dictionaries. As Eric Ray has noted more than a couple of times, we've
gotten onto tenuous ground with some other topics!
I approach dictionaries just as I do other tools--get more serious about
them if they're critically important in terms of job performance and
emotional satisfaction. Personally, because I'm the last stop in our
agency's document quality process, I always keep the most recent edition
of _Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary_ eleven inches from my left
ear. Also close by, in either paper or electronic format, are political,
legal, and computer dictionaries, because those are the fields within
which we work. Then, my secondary office (i.e., a back bedroom at home)
stores an older Merriam Webster as well as humanities-oriented
dictionaries that feed other working interests.
We long ago set the Merriam Webster as our standard because we trust the
editors' scholarship and attention to current usage (the 10th ed. has a
nice usage note on *data*). But I also occasionally refer to other
language dictionaries (especially the _American Heritage_) just to feel
comfortable that MW hasn't missed something. BTW, the 4Q 1994 _Technical
Communication_ reviews the MW 10th edition.
WA Legislative Service Center
On Wed, 6 Sep 1995, Stan Radomski wrote:
> I know that we have talked about reference books before but I don't remember
> any discussion specifically about dictionaries.
> What dictionaries do you use and, more importantly, how often do you replace
> radomski -at- si -dot- com
> PS My 1981 Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary acknowledges the singular and
> plural use of data.