Review: How to Write an Essay in Five Easy Steps

How to Write an Essay in Five Easy Steps
Scribendi (Karen Ashford), $2.99 (Kindle e-book)

I’m always on the lookout for good sources of writing advice that I can pass on to my students. So when given the opportunity to review How to Write an Essay in Five Easy Steps I jumped at the chance. (Like most reviews, I get a free copy.) Unfortunately, while this book is adequate, it does not offer much that is new or that makes it stand out from the crowd. It is filled with run-of-the-mill advice that you can find just about anywhere.

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DARE Needs Your Support

The Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) is the crown jewel of North American lexicography. It’s a six-volume dictionary of regionalisms gathered from across the United States. The sixth and final volume was published this year, but its work is not yet done. The dictionary’s staff is hard at work creating a digital version that will not only make the work more accessible, but will be the home for future updates and additions. Or would be except DARE’s work has been threatened by a sudden loss of funding. The foundation that has long funded the project has declined to renew the grant, and the University of Wisconsin, where the dictionary is housed, is itself in severe financial straits due to cuts in government funding.

DARE editor Joan Houston Hall reports that the staff will be laid off as of July and that her own position disappears in January. The dictionary is on life support and reduced to begging for scraps in order to stay alive long enough to win another grant.

If you are able to contribute, you can do so here.

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Book of Kells Now Online

Trinity College Dublin has now placed the Book of Kells online.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Digital Dictionaries

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a detailed article on how the transition to digital and online formats are changing dictionaries. Digital dictionaries are more convenient, provide feedback to lexicographers on what words are being searched, and have the tools to track social trends in vocabulary use.

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Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles Online

The first edition, from 1967, of The Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles is now available online. A second edition is in preparation with publication targeted for 2015.

So now you can look up toque (1888, or 1882 for the spelling tuque) and Chesterfield (1903).

Making this resource freely available is a good thing, but the dictionary does have its limitations. Most notably, it is from 1967, so many recent Canadianisms are not to be found in it. There is no entry for poutine, for example. Also, the DCHP only includes citations from Canadian sources. While this policy is great for tracking Canadian usage, users must remain aware that many of the terms are older in other dialects. For example, the OED has a British use of Chesterfield a decade before the word appears in Canada, and use of toque goes back to the sixteenth century. And in a bad web design choice, users must click on each citation to see the bibliographic data, which is annoying and time consuming.

So while the DCHP is not a one-stop language site, it is a valuable addition to the lexicographic resources available on the web.

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