Date: Mon, 25 Aug 1997 15:41:32 -0400

From: Gregory {Greg} Downing downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]IS2.NYU.EDU

Subject: Re: Wash. Post article on DARE

At 02:20 PM 8/25/97 -0400, you wrote:

Today's Washington Post has an article about DARE, with

quotes from Cassidy, Hall, and Leonard Zwilling. It

focuses mostly on the financial problems they're having

and the resulting difficulties.

Those interested can find it on line at:

Jesse Sheidlower


For those who haven't seen it, the impression left by the article is that

DARE could be terminated without going past O, that the next couple of years

are crucial, that new large-scale financial backing is necessary. Is it that

bad? (I ask sincerely, not skeptically.)

Lots of people on this list are probabably aware of the difficulties and

delays in getting large-scale dictionaries completed. The German _Thesaurus

Linguae Latinae_ has been coming out in facsicles for about a century and is

still around R or S (I'm writing this from memory). A major Old Irish

dictionary begun in the 40s or 50s is still not done. Etc. etc.

Maybe DARE needs to do what NED/OED did in the 1890s when it was having big

problems (see Murray's granddaugther's bio of him, _Caught in the Web of

Words_): namely, somehow identify itself with the country and the culture,

thus generating a sense among the educated public that the thing should and

must somehow be completed, and not to do so would be a collective shame.

That tends to push people to try to find ways of ensuring that the funds

become available.

Of course, the option of dedicating DARE to Queen Victoria is not too viable

in 1997 (which is what was done exactly a century ago) -- but publicity

might scare up, or embarrass up, enough money to finish. Certainly OED lost

Oxford Univ Press tons of money during the fascicles stage. But once a

"dictionary on historical principles" with citations has been done properly,

it is much less of an uphill pull (though still laborious of course) to

*update* it, especially when one begins to talk of electronic texts

(CD-ROM's, or more likely DVD's in another several years). The history of

OED in the later 20C is a case in point.

_Caught_, p. 289: "The recognition of the Dictionary as a national asset was

sealed when James Murray suggested that the whole work should be dedicated

to Queen Victoria. In August 1897 the Queen accepted, and the third Volume

containing Murray's *D* and Bradley's *E* included a fly leaf with the

dedication by the University of Oxford. For the first time the University

itself was formally pledged to the production and any drawing back now was

unthinkable." (Note that it took from the 1879 contract till 1897 to get

done with A-E.)

Greg Downing/NYU, at greg.downing[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] or downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]