In some instances the Panel's views are more conservative than in the past: The goal of the Third Edition is to provide the user with comprehension and appreciation of the language in a readable manner. It faithfully recorded the language in easily understood definitions. In preparing the Dictionary, our editors have had access to a database containing hundreds of millions of lines of text that could be searched for any word in context. The Usage Panel of the Third Edition consists chiefly of writers, editors, and scholars, 22 of whom are professors of linguistics or English.
A great many Modern English words can be traced to the reconstructed ancestral language called Proto-Indo-European. That book was notable because it did four things and it did them well. If language is a reflection of the ethos of the generation speaking it, then the new entries and meanings in this Edition have much to say about us and our time. The member Usage Panel, with 75 new members and chaired by Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist associated with Stanford University, has made an important contribution to the content and direction of the Usage Notes through responses to periodic surveys developed by the Chair and the editors. In preparing the Dictionary, our editors have had access to a database containing hundreds of millions of lines of text that could be searched for any word in context. The etymologies in the Third Edition, like those in the First, trace many words to their earliest ascertainable origins, usually in Proto-Indo-European, by means of cross-references to a new and thoroughly revised Appendix of Indo-European Roots. It provided guidance toward accuracy, precision, and grace in the use of English that intelligent people need and seek in a dictionary. The Appendix, in a major departure from previous style, gives the root followed by a brief gloss and a list of some of the Modern English words derived from it. More than word history paragraphs, most of which contain dates of first occurrence of the words in English, appear at entries with especially interesting etymologies. The individual roots entry then follows. Our concern with usage extends to issues of gender, ethnicity, and sexual preference. Citations were used in identifying new and evolving usage problems, attesting and evaluating the currency of certain usages, studying various levels of usage, and evaluating their sociolinguistic implications. This Dictionary is the product of four years of work by contributors. Some of the usage issues are entirely new. And it presented complex lexical data in a typographically attractive design accented by thousands of photographs and line drawings in spacious margins. The Usage Panel of the Third Edition consists chiefly of writers, editors, and scholars, 22 of whom are professors of linguistics or English. Considerable attention is devoted in this Edition to the history of words. The definitions are worded in concise, lucid prose without the specialized terms and abbreviations that make most dictionaries forbidding and confusing. It faithfully recorded the language in easily understood definitions. These word histories, such as the one at nerd , provide a social, historical, and cultural context for the evolution of words and explain the various linguistic processes that contribute to the development of language. In some instances the Panel's views are more conservative than in the past: For example, the Modern English words fierce. These men and women, who reside in 28 states across the land and in Canada and England, are a cross section of today's critical, literary, and scholarly community. The A-Z vocabulary, containing more than 16, words and meanings new to this Edition, is a comprehensive, detailed record of the language. Special symbols, abbreviations, and complex technical vocabulary have been avoided in the etymologies. It traced, whenever possible, the development of English words to their origins and keyed many to an Appendix of Indo-European Roots.
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