A Festschrift in Honour of A.V.C. Schmidt
Review. A Dictionary of Hiberno-English: The Irish Use of English (third edition)
← 90 | 91 → ALAN J. FLETCHER
A happy year in lexicographical annals occurred in 2012, when Terence Patrick Dolan’s third edition of A Dictionary of Hiberno-English was issued. The work of the lexicographer is necessarily never done, since any dictionary of a living language may hope to take only a momentary snapshot, frozen in time, of the ceaseless rustle and movement of its subject. It is as vain to imagine that a living language can be captured permanently in any kind of frame such as dictionaries would seem to propose as it is to imagine that a snapshot of some individual human being can catch the full essence of what led up to the moment in which the image was taken, still less what awaits that individual in the future. The future will require a new snapshot.
We may therefore welcome Dolan’s third edition while recognizing its inevitable ephemerality; the third edition must imply and cede to a fourth, and so on and on as long as lexicographers ply their trade. The question, therefore, is not of whether this dictionary of Hiberno-English has the last word, something self-evidently impossible, but of whether its frozen snapshot returns a faithful, if momentary, likeness to the subject in the frame, of whether it is the last word in that more limited sense. While the answer to this question is not one that I am sufficiently well equipped to arbitrate, I can at least presume to speak about whether the ground...
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