HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Arts & Humanities » Languages and Linguistics (Group) » Why I like some dictionar...

Sun Nov 16, 2014, 02:43 PM

Why I like some dictionaries more than others

Last edited Sun Nov 16, 2014, 05:44 PM - Edit history (1)

I am the proud owner of what will probably be the last print edition of the granddaddy of all English dictionaries, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Among its other virtues, when describing etymology it does not transliterate Greek words. It prints them using the Greek alphabet. The same is true of Cassell's Latin dictionary and the monumental Oxford Latin Dictionary.

Transliteration made some sense in the era of typewriters and hot-metal typesetting, but those technological dinosaurs are nearly extinct. Almost all printing is now done by computer. Since Greek fonts are widely available, there is no excuse for new dictionaries not to print Greek words in the Greek alphabet.

Many dictionaries now in print are photographic reproductions of older editions, so transliteration can not be replaced by Greek text.

Last time I checked the online OED it had not evolved much from the print edition. The Greek alphabet was used where appropriate, but unfortunately no Greek font was used. Instead, each Greek letter was a Graphics box, which means that those of us with bad eyesight could not zoom in on Greek words the way we could on English words.

Another criterion for dictionaries is the way they describe pronunciation. The gold standard for pronunciation is the alphabet of the International Phonetic Association (IPA). The best dictionaries (e.g., the OED) use the IPA alphabet, at least as a starting point.

4 replies, 1991 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 4 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why I like some dictionaries more than others (Original post)
Lionel Mandrake Nov 2014 OP
Sweeney Dec 2014 #1
Lionel Mandrake Dec 2014 #2
Sweeney Dec 2014 #3
Lionel Mandrake Dec 2014 #4

Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)


Response to Sweeney (Reply #1)

Fri Dec 5, 2014, 05:37 PM

2. My OED has "xenelasy",

which was used in English by George Grote, History of Greece (1846). As you probably know, "xenelasy" was a way to remove foreigners from Sparta.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Lionel Mandrake (Reply #2)


Response to Sweeney (Reply #3)

Fri Dec 5, 2014, 08:12 PM

4. The words "xenelasia" and "xenelasy" (take your pick)

both score numerous hits in Google. The former is closer to the Greek original, the latter more anglicized. I can discern no difference in meaning. The Wikipedia article could use some editing; it begins as follows:

"Xenelasia (Ancient Greek: ξενηλασία ... ) was the title given to a set of laws in ancient Doric Crete and Lacedæmonia that proscribed (sic) the exclusion of foreigners and any foreign arts and music into their respective commonwealths."

Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenelasia

Plato had entirely too much respect for such xenophobia; see Republic or Laws.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread