The Story of Webster's Third: Philip Gove's Controversial Dictionary and its Criticsby Herbert C. Morton
Pub. Date: 12/28/2014
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
The publication of Webster's Third New International Dictionary in 1961 set off a storm of intense controversy in both the popular press and in scholarly journals due to widespread disagreements about the nature of language and the role of the dictionary. This is the first full account of the controversy, set within the larger background of how the dictionary was planned and put together by its editor-in-chief, Philip Babcock Gove. Based on original research and interviews with the people who knew and worked with Gove, this is a human story as well as the story of the making of a dictionary. The author skillfully interweaves an account of Gove's character and working habits with the evolution of the dictionary. In spite of its rocky initial reception, Webster's Third is now widely regarded as one of the greatest dictionaries of our time.
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Table of Contents1. The best of times and the worst: a prologue; Part I. Philip Gove and the Genesis of Webster's Third: 2. Gove's formative years: the road to Springfield; 3. The Webster and Merriam tradition; 4. The new editor takes hold; Part II. The Making of the Dictionary: Gove's Intentions: 5. The meaning of words: definers at work; 6. The origins of words: the etymologist's task; 7. The sound of words and other matters; 8. Usage and final tasks; Part III. The War of Words: 9. Early Returns: the fuse is lit; 10. The controversy heats up; 11. 1962: calamity or calumny?; 12. Commercial intrusions: trademarks, takeover threats, competition; 13. Ideology and politics in the running debate; 14. The judgment of peers; Part IV. Sorting it All Out: 15. Gove and Webster's Third: the legacy; 16. Concluding words.
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