AM - Dictionaries

Dictionnaire amoureux des langues [Loving Dictionary of Languages]. Claude Hagège. Paris: Plon and Odile Jacob, 2009. 729 p. 21 cm. ISBN 9782259204095: EUR 25

An RREA Original Review by Emmanuelle H. Bonnafoux (University of Chicago)

With this volume, the famous linguist Claude Hagège has contributed to the thematic series Dictionnaire amoureux published by Plon, which now has 45 titles available. The label of “dictionary” could be misleading, since this book is actually a collection of personal essays on languages, alphabetically arranged by thematic title—such as “Beauté” [Beauty]—rather than by language. The reader should not be looking here for the exhaustive breadth of knowledge that a dictionary usually tries to encompass. As Claude Hagège states in the preface, the book does not cover everything one might want to know about languages in general; rather, it is the product of the author’s choosing, which, he hopes, might give an idea of what it means to love languages. As a result, this is a book to be enjoyed one entry at a time, almost like a coffee table book (although without fancy pictures), rather than a reference volume as the title might suggest. The lack of bibliography is regrettable, as it might prevent the inexperienced reader from going further. It is, however, a quite enjoyable and erudite read for those individuals with more than a smattering of linguistics. The Dictionnaire amoureux des langues can be recommended for all institutions with an academic program in general linguistics.

Le Dictionnaire des analogies Daniel Péchoin. Paris: Larousse, 2009. xvii, 1229 p. 23 cm. (Grand dictionnaire) ISBN 9782035841612: EUR 20.90 EUR 25

An RREA Original Review by (Sarah G. Wenzel, University of Chicago)

Writers have relied on the Larousse thesaurus since 1992, when the first edition was published. Retitled and reorganized, the content revised where needed (although it still contains the 873 categories of the original edition), it remains an important tool. The prefatory material is identical to the 1992 edition, although the examples of “standard” entries have changed. A helpful table at the head of the volume orients the reader, followed by lists of the abbreviations and rubrics (e.g., photography and cinema) used in the entries. The book contains two types of articles, “standard” and “encyclopedic.” A standard entry is used for concepts, while an encyclopedic entry treats a class of things, e.g., fruits. Each entry is comprehensive, illustrated when needed by phrases and containing guidance as to usage and register.

After each headword, the words are grouped into families, and words in each family are listed in precise order by grammatical category: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, etc. The families are grouped by sense or meaning. Usually the words within a category are listed alphabetically, unless another order makes more sense in context. Numerous cross-references facilitate movement from one subject to another.

The themes (“Abondance” to “Zoologie”) are alphabetical within the volume, a substantial change from the previous edition, which organized them into larger clusters with hierarchical subgroups (for example, the world: fundamental concepts: existence). Perhaps it is because the latter is more familiar that it seems more intuitive. With an alphabetical structure, the role of the index is much greater, and the index in this volume is correspondingly more detailed.

The most recently published title to which it compares is the Dictionnaire de synonymes, mots de sens voisin et contraires [Dictionary of Synonyms, Similar Words, and Antonyms] by Henri Bertaud du Chazaud (see RREA 13:27). The Dictionnaire des analogies has twice as many entries as the Dictionnaire de synonymes, mots de sens voisin et contraires, and those entries are more comprehensive. In addition, the organization by theme of the Dictionnaire des analogies allows for an understanding of how a word fits within a schema, and avoids the numerous cross-references (sometimes filling nearly an entire column) required by the strictly alphabetical arrangement of the i>Dictionnaire de synonymes, mots de sens voisin et contraires.

A true thesaurus such as this one continues to occupy a valuable place in a reference collection; there is no online equivalent. The closest is the “Synonymes et contraires” [synonyms and antonyms] feature in the electronic version of the Grand Robert, but there are no comparable free resources. The superior paper, size of text, and binding of this volume make it much easier to read and use than the 1997 edition. Due to the updates, as well the restructuring that provides a different means of access from previous editions, this thesaurus is highly recommended.

Decodex: expressions illustrées: ABCdaire bilingue [Decodex: Illustrated Expressions. Bilingual ABCs]. Chris Bedford and Jean-Paul Meunier. Paris: La Maison du dictionnaire, 2009. [various paginations] ill. 21 cm. ISBN 9782856082218: EUR 19.90

An RREA Original Review by Wendeline A. Hardenberg (Southern Connecticut State University)

Although the description on the back of the book claims that Decodex is the fruit of a cordial relationship between a Frenchman and an Englishwoman who are “natives” in their own language and “naïves” in the other, their brief biographies reveal that Bedford the Englishwoman, has lived in northern France for 30 years and holds a master’s degree in English linguistics from the Université de Lille-III, which implies that she cannot be particularly naïve in French. Her collaboration with Meunier, however, arose from their shared passion for the intersection of words and images and resulted in this series of 192 French expressions paired with their English equivalents, each illustrated with black-and-white computer drawings.

Decodex has no introduction to explain its arrangement; it simply starts with a sort of alphabetical index to all the main French and English words used in either the expressions or their translations, with each word given a corresponding letter (or set of letters) and a number (e.g., C-4, UVW-1). We therefore discover, for example, that the English word “abandon” can be found on page L-2, as can the corresponding French word abandonner. The English and French expressions that will actually be found on page L-2 are noted underneath, with “abandon” given “To leave sb in the lurch” and abandonner given “Laisser qn le bec dans l’eau” [literally, “to leave someone with the beak in the water”]. In flipping through the pages to find page L-2, the reader learns that it is the second page in the L section, which follows the 12th page in the IKJ section. This arrangement was presumably adopted to make browsing for particular French expressions easier.

On each page the expression in French can be found at the top, with its English equivalent underneath. There are then two pictures illustrating the literal meaning of each expression; on page L-2, one image shows a tiny person with a tail instead of a leg and dizzy lines around his head, with a large foot going away from him, while the other image shows a strange bird sticking its beak into water. It is by no means always clear what the images are trying to depict, and the lack of color is sometimes a detriment. Underneath each picture the corresponding phrase is reprinted, then underneath that phrase is the literal translation of the other language’s expression, followed by a dictionary-type definition of the concept that each expression conveys (in this case, “To desert a person in difficulties, to leave sb with their head still under water” and “Faire faux bon à qn, écarter qn déjà en difficulté”).

This book could be an excellent resource for someone who wanted to learn idiomatic French (or English) in a striking manner, and it could also be a useful tool for intermediate students of French language and culture. The illustrations are bizarre and attentiongrabbing, which may serve a mnemonic purpose. However, Decodex is really more of a novelty book than a reference resource, and some of the English expressions are distinctly British, which will not always help an American reader. This work is recommended for libraries with large populations of French learners.

Dictionnaire des mots du sexe [Dictionary of Words for Sex]. Ed. Agnès Pierron. Paris: Balland, 2010. 922 p. 23 cm. (Dictionnaire). ISBN 9782353150793: EUR 35

An RREA Original Review by Michelle Emanuel (University of Mississippi)

This dictionary of sexual vocabulary contextualizes over 5,000 expressions from various sources, including literature and contemporary slang, dating back to the 15th century. There is nothing subtle about the cover, with the title in extra-large font and the final word SEXE in bright pink, capitalized letters. Inside, the entries are organized according to alphabetized themes, from “Corps” [body] to “Échanges et argent” [exchanges and money] to “Fruits et légumes” [fruits and vegetables] to “Vêtements et accessoires” [clothing and accessories]. Variations may exist on the word in question. For example, the entry jambe [leg], not usually considered a sexual word, lists nine different expressions, each including variations of the term. Equivalents are offered when appropriate. Expressions are contextualized within the time period of use, and citations are given for the place of use. In her introduction, Pierron writes, “Je suis allée chercher les mots là oú ils se retrouvent: dans la littérature” [I went to find words where they are: in literature]. The volume includes a selective bibliography comprised of dictionaries, literary works, and songs. There is an index of authors cited, as well as an extensive index of words, comprising over 80 pages. This dictionary is an impressive collection, useful for many types of reading, both literary and popular, if the patron knows to look for it.

Dictionnaire de l’argot: l’argent, la santé, le sexe, le sport, la violence [Dictionary of Slang: Money, Health, Sex, Sports, Violence]. Ed. Albert Doillon. Paris: Robert Laffont, 2010. x, 1768 p. 20 cm. (Dictionnaire). ISBN 9782221113516: EUR 35

An RREA Original Review by Michelle Emanuel (University of Mississippi)

A good slang dictionary is invaluable when studying popular culture, from popular fiction to comic books to film. This particular slang dictionary is different from many in that it collects terms by type: money, health, sex, sports, and violence. Entries include usage within context from cited works. At the end of each section is an annexe, or alphabetical listing of terms within the section. In all but the section on health, this listing is followed by additional information about usage. For example, in the “Argent” [Money] section, there is a lengthy analysis of the word clochard [bum] and the use of the word pauvre [poor] in other slang expressions. In the section on sex, the 700 words for “penis” are separated from the 500 words for “vagina,” the “Sports” section includes a history of the words for “trampoline,” and the “Violence” section lists insulting words according to their degree of effectiveness. The dictionary ends with an extensive bibliography, also divided into sections. Claude Duneton’s preface, analyzing the study of slang, is an interesting read.

As valuable as the resource is, it is somewhat difficult to navigate, in that the five sections do not have tabs, the name of the section is only visible at the top of the page in the annexe pages, and there is no generalized index to indicate which section to consult. In spite of this limitation, the Dictionnaire de l’argot is suitable for users at many levels.

Etymologiko lexiko tes neas hellenikes glossas: historia ton lexeon, me scholia kai enthetous pinakes [Etymological Lexicon of the Modern Greek Language: History of Words, with Comments and Supplemental Tables]. Georgios D. Bampiniotes. Athena: Kentro Lexikologias, 2009. 1652 p. 25 cm. ISBN 9789608975187: EUR 54

An RREA Original Review by Anthony J. Oddo (Yale University)

This work is a comprehensive lexicon of Modern Greek vocabulary. The introduction is short compared to the size of the text, yet it provides detailed information on how to use the resource. This very large volume includes detailed clarification of each entry’s meaning, origin (ancient Greek, Italian, etc.), and grammatical variations of forms (adjectives, verb moods, etc.). The alphabetically arranged entries derive from current Modern Greek language usage. There are occasional citations of word origins from ancient authors and examples of current use in sentence and phrase structures at the end of the citations. There are numerous cross-references to direct the user to the proper form of a word, as well as concise historical summaries on selected entries. In the center of the book is a short section listing words that have come into Greek from other languages such as Italian, English, French, Turkish, and Albanian, as well as a section on Indo-European word roots and rules on monotonic and polytonic pronunciation and transcription. The lexicon closes with a highly selective bibliography of the major Greek and non-Greek resources on the history and development of the Greek language, which may be of value to the non-Greek-speaking user.

Etymologiko lexiko tes neas hellenikes glossas is designed to support research into the history of the Greek language for a Greek-speaking user. It would be an important addition to a reference collection of an academic or major research library supporting research in Modern Greek or comparative linguistics. An individual scholar of Greek linguistics would also welcome this dictionary into a personal library.

Hellenogeorgiano lexiko = Axalberznul-k’art’uli lek’sikoni [Modern Greek-Georgian Dictionary]. Ed. Sophia Siamanidou et al. Tiphlida: Programma “Logos” = T’bilisi: Programa “Logosi,” 2009. 1254 p. 39 cm. ISBN 978-9941-401-45-9 (1 Chavchavdze Ave., 0218 Tiphlida, fax [995] 32 22 11 81)

An RREA Original Review by George I. Paganelis (California State University, Sacramento)

This dictionary may at first glance appear to be an example of lexicographical exotica, until one recognizes the long-standing interest in the Greek language in Georgia. From its contacts with the Greeks in the ancient world, involvement with the conflicts of the Byzantine Empire, and position as a destination for Greek emigrants from Pontus and Asia Minor since the 18th century, Georgia has maintained a consistent proximity to Greek culture and language over the centuries.

In 1997 T’bilisi State University founded the Institute of Classical, Byzantine, and Modern Greek Studies (http://greekstudies-tsu.ge/) to foster educational and research opportunities in Hellenic studies broadly conceived. The Institute has been engaged in publishing monographs, journals, and reference materials. A lack of lexical tools in particular was identified early on as an impediment to the serious study and research of Greek in Georgia. Thus, the Institute published its seven-volume Hellenogeorgiano lexiko tes vyzantines periodou = Berjnul-k’art’uli dokumentirebuli lek’sikoni [Greek-Georgian Dictionary of the Byzantine Period] between 2002 and 2007 and Zjvelberzjnul-k’art’uli lek’sikoni [Old-Greek-Georgian Dictionary] in 2008, prior to the present work. Together these three dictionaries bridge the Greek and Georgian languages diachronically for the first time. A reciprocal Georgian-Modern Greek dictionary already in preparation at the Institute will provide a further aid to students and researchers of Modern Greek.

The editorial team of Hellenogeorgiano lexiko addresses the many choices and challenges posed by attempting such a dictionary for the first time by following the methodology used by Georgios D. Bampiniotes in his Lexiko tes neas hellenikes glossas [Dictionary of the Modern Greek Language] (Athena, 1998, 3d ed. 2008). The dictionary begins with a prologue in Georgian and Greek and a table of abbreviations, followed by a brief history of the Greek language in Georgian. The body of the work contains approximately 45,000 Modern Greek words current in contemporary written and spoken usage, including idiomatic expressions, loanwords, neologisms, and selected scientific jargon. Entries usually contain multiple definitions and examples of usage, while words with variant or irregular declensions, conjugations, etc. have these forms in parentheses. The Georgian user will also find a healthy dose of salty language to satisfy natural curiosities. Separate indexes of geographical terms and abbreviations and a series of grammatical tables conclude the work.

The editorial team acknowledges that this prototypical effort naturally will require a corrected reprint edition to account for minor addenda and corrigenda; nevertheless, this specialized dictionary stands as a significant lexicographical contribution recommended for Caucasian studies, linguistics, and more comprehensive Modern Greek studies collections.

Vocabolario: greco-calabro-italiano, italiano-greco-calabro [Vocabulary: Greek- Calabrian-Italian, Italian-Greek-Calabrian]. Antonio Roda`. Reggio Calabria: Laruffa, 2010. 404 p. 24 cm. ISBN 978-88-7221-4961: EUR 40

An RREA Original Review by Anthony J. Oddo (Yale University)

This work is a comprehensive dictionary of words of Greek origin that have come into the Calabrian dialect of the Italian language. The subtitle is misleading. One would have thought that the work was paralleling the Greek, Calabrian, and standard Italian languages and would include all three languages in separate lists. In fact, it is a dictionary comparing Greek-Calabrian with standard Italian. It is divided into two parts: Greek- Calabrian/Italian (part 1) and Italian/Greek-Calabrian (part 2). Each entry word consists of its parallel meaning, an identification of its grammatical part of speech and form (e.g., conditional verb), and random supporting phrases and sentences in Italian and Calabrian to demonstrate usage. These phrases are especially prevalent in part 2 of the text, whereas in part 1, the compiler has placed more emphasis on grammatical parts of speech for Greek-Calabrian words than on phrases. Entries occasionally indicate either an ancient or Modern Greek origin of the word, with the original Greek word given in transliterated form. There is no formal introduction save a short preface by Daniele Macris praising Roda`’s efforts. There are only casual references mentioned to earlier works in this area, e.g., “D’Andrea (2003)”; it is evidently assumed that the reader will recognize the citation—in this case, Ferdinando D’Andrea, Vocabolario greco-calabro-italiano della Bovesia [Greco-Calabrian-Italian Vocabulary of Bovesia] (Reggio Calabria, 2003).

While there is much to appreciate, Vocabolario: greco-calabro-italiano, italiano-greco-calabro is highly specialized even by academic standards. Institutions offering programs that cover Italian dialects, the Greek language, or comparative linguistics would find it a valuable resource. This work would also be a worthwhile addition to the personal library of an individual scholar whose research focus is within these areas.

Thesaurus linguae Etruscae [Dictionary of the Etruscan Language]. Ed. Enrico Benelli. 2d completely rev. ed. Pisa: Fabrizio Serra editore. 25 cm.

Vol. 1. Indice lessicale [Lexical Index]. 2009. xxxiv, 580 p. ISBN 978-88-6227-147-9: EUR 445 (hardbound); ISBN 978-88-6227-135-6: EUR 245 (paperback)

An RREA Original Review by Rebecca R. Malek-Wiley (Tulane University)

This significant linguistic publication extensively updates the first edition edited by Massimo Pallottino (Roma, 1978-1998) in light of the considerable subsequent developments in Etruscology, including many new textual discoveries, more recent scholarly analyses and interpretations, and some new transliteration conventions. It also consolidates the content by incorporating into this first volume the reverse indexes and supplementary entries that had been in three additional volumes in the prior edition. The Istituto di studi etruschi ed italici [Institute of Etruscan and Italic Studies] and the Istituto di etruscologia e antichità italiche dell’Università di Roma [Institute of Etruscology and Italic Antiquities of the University of Rome] collaborated on this project, published under the auspices of the Consiglio nazionale delle ricerche, Istituto di studi sulle civiltà italiche e del Mediterraneo antico [National Research Council, Institute of Studies on Italic and Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations].

The first volume comprises more than the title term indice implies, as this very substantial tome is not simply an index to the forthcoming dictionary volume but is itself a compilation of detailed linguistic, epigraphic, geographical, and chronological data. Thus, it also serves as an index, or concordance, to the comprehensive corpus of published Etruscan texts, including Etruscan inscriptions, the Liber linteus Zagrabiensis [Linen Book of Zagreb], and legends from coins (the last a new feature of this edition). Directed by Enrico Benelli, a number of Etruscan scholars have reexamined, for accuracy and authenticity, even the sources used in the first edition and have drawn on new ones published, or noted within publications, by the end of 2006.

Following a brief preface to the new edition summarizing added features and key changes, the introduction utilizes a visually somewhat odd but ultimately helpful technique of repeating the text of the 1978 introduction while adding updated text in square brackets, thus enabling one to identify changes in further detail even without owning the first edition. It discusses the research background, criteria for inclusion, and bases for choices made, for example, in transliteration, also providing a detailed explanation of the content of each entry and of transcription conventions. The preface, introduction, and section titles are all in Italian.

The largest part consists of words from Etruscan-alphabet texts, in the order documented in archaic Etruscan alphabet lists (7th-5th centuries BCE), with numerals and words lacking their initial letters at the end. It is followed by a reverse index of the same words. Then come several lists: alphabets and syllabaries; legends on coins; undivided texts (i.e., cases in which experts cannot determine clearly where to divide the run-together lettering into separate words); and terms from texts in other alphabets, primarily in Latin with a few Greek words.

The first appendix lists bibliographical references to texts not used, cited by number; these texts have been omitted for being illegible or of dubious authenticity, with asterisks after the text numbers of definite fakes. The table of alphabets in the second appendix functions as a key to the transliteration method adopted; three columns show Etruscan letters from different periods, while the fourth gives the Roman-alphabet equivalent. A list of abbreviations (e.g., published sources and geographical locations) at the beginning of the volume is a useful tool, as abbreviations are used extensively throughout the dictionary.

Each entry consists of the bold-face lemma (a word or other group of characters), in Roman-alphabet transliteration, and any variant forms—including ones that definitely represent the same word, others whose relationship is more debatable, and still others that are probably simply errors in particular texts. (Including original Etruscanalphabet transcriptions in the entries would have been a convenience, but the resulting increase in the book’s size and cost would probably not have been practical.) For each form, this first volume provides the geographic provenance of texts with that form; the reference or page number (or numbers) of published texts containing it; one or more brief quotations to illustrate the context in which it appears; and abbreviated chronological designations for archaic texts—by century when possible, otherwise “arc.” for the period more generally. Texts more recent than the 5th century BCE are undated, even when their published editions now provide dates. When applicable, epigraphic or philological problems are concisely noted, such as caveats that there are conflicting readings of a particular inscription, that a source may be false, or that a word may not really be Etruscan.

Given the continuing uncertainties and differences of interpretation regarding Etruscan, this type of comprehensive, systematic compilation of information provides an essential foundation for scholarly philological work. A second volume is planned that will provide extensive linguistic and textual discussion of the Etruscan words and their meanings—the dictionary proper—and critical apparatus, in addition to a supplement with all words and texts identified after 2006. One may also hope that Thesaurus linguae Etruscae will cite reliable dates for later-period texts in future. An eventual online version that incorporated additional dating as well as Etruscan-alphabet transcriptions would be ideal.

These points aside, it is difficult to imagine a more exhaustive or authoritative Etruscological lexical resource than Thesaurus linguae Etruscae. While the highly specialized content—not to mention the price—is not for the faint of heart, the first volume already stands as a substantial contribution to this collective magnum opus. This work is invaluable for any collection supporting the growing area of Etruscan studies; it would also potentially be very useful for those doing research on early Rome or other ancient Italic cultures, who may well need to consult Etruscan texts. Budget permitting, it would also be a worthy addition to comparative linguistics collections, particularly ones with a focus on ancient or less commonly taught languages.

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Last update: January 2013 [LC]
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