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Re: What is the language "British"?



On Wed, 06 Sep 2006 22:09:04 -0400, Bob Goodwin wrote:

>>> I sympathize with the American posters here who know no better than to
>>> use American toys that call themselves dictionaries.  The OED which is a
>>> real English dictionary does not define fuze directly but simply refers
>>> to fuse.  The definition of fuse(n.) includes something to break an
>>> electrical circuit and something to ignite explosives, so that should
>>> settle it.

Point of information here : the makers of dictionaries have no pipeline to
any gods of language, if such there be. What they do is go out and study
usage, then report what they find. 

Some of them try persistently to pass an informed judgment on what is
*good* usage (according to their own great knowledge and therefore
*presumed* good judgment) and then report that preferentially; perhaps the
best example is Fowler's Modern English Usage, especially in the first
edition. And that may indeed be a good thing to do, as most professional
writers agree in Fowler's case.

Others, equally learned in language, do their best on principle to eschew
any judgment, and report "just the facts," leaving it to each of us to
pass our own. The OED is a good example here : it bases every article, as
the full title says, "on historical principles" -- id est, *not* on those
of a Fowler.

But in either case, they are only human. There exists no such authority to
back them up as, for instance, the compilers of law books or of handbooks
of physics enjoy. Try comparing the two editions of Fowler, for instance.
Maybe also look up and examine other prescriptive reference sources, and
one or two other history-based ones; there are several of each.

-- 
Beartooth Staffwright, PhD, Neo-Redneck Linux Convert
What do they know of country, who only country know?




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