HD: OED Editing Drama
Posted: 28 November 2012 05:30 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Lexicographers gone wild! (Not really.)

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Posted: 28 November 2012 07:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Very good rebuttal by Jesse Sheidlower. So why this storm in a teacup? We don’t have to look far for the answer. The linguist Sarah Ogilvie ...........  has gained considerable attention for her new book .......

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Posted: 29 November 2012 08:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Well, I for one wouldn’t have paid any attention if she weren’t a linguist and former editor for the OED, which implies she knows what she’s talking about.  And it turns out she does; the problem, as Sheidlower points out, is (as usual) bad reporting.

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Posted: 29 November 2012 11:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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What is confusing, though, is that the Guardian cites what purport to be direct quotes from Ogilvie that strongly suggest, if not expressly state, that Burchfield misrepresented his work as an editor to take credit for something that he didn’t really deserve.  And even if you assume that those statements were taken out of context, I can’t imagine a context that they could be put in that would make them accurate (unless, Wayne’s World style, she said “NOT” after making them).  The direct quotes don’t make any reference to “covert” deletions of words, but the assertions about Burchfield seem to be rather troubling in and of themselves.  And she does use “shocking” in direct quotes and seems to be discussing deletions (the exact word used is “leaves”, and it seems to mean “is deleted” in context) though I suppose it’s conceivable that she wasn’t actually saying Burchfield deleted words in a shocking way, and was referring to deletions as a hypothetical possibility that would be shocking if it occurred, but that seems like a stretch.

So even if her book was perfectly scholarly and reasoned, and she only made outrageous claims in an interview about the book, it still looks like she can properly be taken to task for her comments.  Or am I missing something?

[ Edited: 29 November 2012 11:19 AM by Svinyard118 ]
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Posted: 29 November 2012 02:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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It really sounds like The Guardian sensationalized this one, making questionable assertions and writing the article in a way that implied Ogilvie was making them.

The NY Times article is much better. For one thing, it gives a clear explanation of exactly what was going on with all those supplements. The final paragraph reads:

In a telephone interview Dr. Ogilvie took a seemingly softer stance toward Mr. Burchfield than she does in her book. “It is important not to attribute mendacity to Burchfield,” she said, “but rather to give the early editors recognition for their contribution toward making the OED a truly global text. This is a good-news story about the early OED editors more than it is a bad-news story about Burchfield.”

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Posted: 29 November 2012 03:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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That’s my take too, Swinyard. Her attack on Burchfield’s editing seems to be unjustified. The Guardian article may be guilty of selective quotation but it hasn’t cut this entirely from whole cloth.

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Posted: 30 November 2012 03:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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This is a good-news story about the early OED editors more than it is a bad-news story about Burchfield

but, as I’m sure she knows, bad news sells more than good news.

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