Classical Dictionaries: Past, Present and Future

Classical Dictionaries: Past, Present and Future

Postby MAubrey » July 28th, 2011, 12:35 pm

Bryn Mawr Classical Review has a great review of a book on classical dictionaries that might be of interest to people here:

Christopher Stray (ed.), Classical Dictionaries: Past, Present and Future. London: Duckworth, 2010. Pp. viii, 229. ISBN 9780715639160. $80.00.

One highlight:

The book’s central chapter, by Christopher Stray, provides sensitive and nuanced insight into the world of 19th-century English classical scholarship. In another example of first-class history of scholarship and archival research, Stray discusses the history of LS(J), interweaving the process of its composition and revision with the lives and personalities of the people involved. The piece’s most valuable contribution is an understanding of the constraints governing the origin and revision of the lexicon. These constraints were intimately bound up in the press’s desire to market a product and make a profit: as an example, to save money and simplify revision, the type was sometimes left standing or electrotyped for subsequent editions. This did indeed facilitate revision—but at the cost of allowing for only minor changes. Such a fundamentally conservative process has left a lot of venerable absurdities in its wake, and it goes a long way toward explaining LSJ’s current state.


http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2011/2011-07-51.html
Mike Aubrey
Canada Institute of Linguistics & Trinity Western University Graduate School
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Re: Classical Dictionaries: Past, Present and Future

Postby cwconrad » July 28th, 2011, 2:38 pm

MAubrey wrote:Bryn Mawr Classical Review has a great review of a book on classical dictionaries that might be of interest to people here:

Christopher Stray (ed.), Classical Dictionaries: Past, Present and Future. London: Duckworth, 2010. Pp. viii, 229. ISBN 9780715639160. $80.00.

One highlight:

The book’s central chapter, by Christopher Stray, provides sensitive and nuanced insight into the world of 19th-century English classical scholarship. In another example of first-class history of scholarship and archival research, Stray discusses the history of LS(J), interweaving the process of its composition and revision with the lives and personalities of the people involved. The piece’s most valuable contribution is an understanding of the constraints governing the origin and revision of the lexicon. These constraints were intimately bound up in the press’s desire to market a product and make a profit: as an example, to save money and simplify revision, the type was sometimes left standing or electrotyped for subsequent editions. This did indeed facilitate revision—but at the cost of allowing for only minor changes. Such a fundamentally conservative process has left a lot of venerable absurdities in its wake, and it goes a long way toward explaining LSJ’s current state.


http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2011/2011-07-51.html


Yes, this is interesting. I saw this review this morning. Particularly fascinating within your cited text is this: "The piece’s most valuable contribution is an understanding of the constraints governing the origin and revision of the lexicon. These constraints were intimately bound up in the press’s desire to market a product and make a profit."

My observation, from the perspective of an aging and increasingly cynical observer of the academic and publishing industries is that "the desire to market a product and make a product" continues to constrain the publication of academic resources -- including electronic resources such as software. The development, compilation, and promulgation of academic resources that can claim any real degree of responsible authority is costly and laborious. This is something worth bearing in mind when we read the blurbs for attractive new items of resources in Biblical Greek. On the other hand, publication of something new is a gamble for the publisher, and it's the publisher who has to decide whether a new item is deserving of publication and whether it will sell and how to promote it. All of this may be obvious upon a little reflection, but it suggests that the motto regarding expensive resource books and software in Greek should be not simply caveat emptor but caveat vendor and caveat editor
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω
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Re: Classical Dictionaries: Past, Present and Future

Postby Stephen Carlson » July 28th, 2011, 2:47 pm

Read this book today. I would especially recommend John A. L. Lee's essay in LSJ, showing the tortured revision history for the entry on αγαπητος as well as presenting his thoughts for what a lexicon of the future should look like.

Stephen
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke, New Testament)
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Re: Classical Dictionaries: Past, Present and Future

Postby James Spinti » July 29th, 2011, 10:55 am

Carl,

I can't speak to the software side of things, but I can address it from the side of a publisher. Eisenbrauns has always prided themselves as being "academics for academics" and we have tried to price our books accordingly. But, we also have to stay in business...consequently, there are projects that we would love to do, but have to pass on. Conversely, there are more than a few projects that we have done that will never break even--let alone make money. We try to weigh each project in the how necessary/will it make money balance. So far, we have managed to stay in business and still produced some real financial losers--but important reference works that needed to be done.

From discussions with other publishers, I can say that we are not the only publisher who does this. I'm sure that James Ernest could chime in here, as well (I know there are other publishers lurking on the list who could vouch for what I am saying, should they choose to drop their cloaking devices).

That being said, there are some publishing houses that seem more interested in turning a profit than anything else...

James
Proofreading and copyediting of ancient Near Eastern and biblical studies monographs
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Re: Classical Dictionaries: Past, Present and Future

Postby James Ernest » July 31st, 2011, 8:12 am

> I'm sure that James Ernest could chime in here

Chime in? I could play a whole carillon concert--if enough people were willing to buy tickets to hear it. Lol
[size=85][color=#008000]-------------------------------------------
James D. Ernest, PhD
Executive Editor
Baker Academic and Brazos Press
Grand Rapids, MI
-------------------------------------------[/color][/size]
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