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Evaluating the Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage


Dictionary of Caribbean English usage. New York: Oxford University Press. Allsopp, R. (1997) ... Oxford, England. Oxford English Dictionary. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Evaluating the Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage

Evaluating the Dictionary of Caribbean English
  • Matthew J. Brown

February 20, 2001
Need for the DCEU Regional Background
  • 5.8 million English speakers in 105,000 sq. mi.
  • 5 geopolitical territories 12 independent
  • Different settlement histories ? different
    development of English.

Need for the DCEU The Region
  • Anguilla
  • Antigua
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bermuda
  • Br. Virgin Isles
  • Cayman Isles
  • Carriacou
  • Dominica
  • Fr Guiana
  • Grenada
  • Grenadines
  • Guadaloupe
  • Gullah

Guyana Haiti Jamaica Martinique Montserrat Neth.
Antilles Nevis Panama Puerto Rico Surinam Santo
Domingo St. Kitts St. Lucia St. Vincent
US Virgin Isles Venezuela
Tobago Turks and Caicos Trinidad
Need for the DCEU
  • Trinidad 1967
  • Conference of the Caribbean Association of
    Headmasters and Headmistresses
  • Resolution 6 Whereas the general interchange
    of teachers among the Caribbean territories is
    increasing, Be it resolved that this Association
    request the appropriate department of the
    University of the West Indies to compile a list
    of lexical terms in each territory and to
    circulate these to schools for the guidance of

Authority Coordinator and Editor Richard Allsopp
  • Masters and PhD in English from UK Universities.
  • Thesis Pronominal Forms in the Dialect of
    English Spoken in British Guiana.
  • 1st ever devoted to Caribbean Creole.
  • 1963 becomes UWI English Professor.
  • Editorial board of OED 2nd Ed.
  • Contributor to OED Online.
  • 50 published papers.

Authority Publisher and Genealogy
  • Published by Oxford University Press
  • According to Katz OUP is one of the reputable
    dictionary publishers.
  • American Reference Books Annual (v. 28)
  • …this volume is the first comprehensive
    inventory of that regions distinctive language.
  • Caribbean English not scholarly until after WWII.

  • Accuracy and Currency
  • Difficult to assess due to unique quality.
  • Objectivity
  • No noticeable bias.
  • More headwords from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago,
    and Guyana.
  • Most populous territories in region.
  • Style
  • Written for High School age and above.

  • Sequence
  • Terms are listed alphabetically.
  • Entries follow specific structure.
  • See Structure of an Entry in the Preface.
  • Indexing
  • None.
  • Extensive cross-referencing.
  • A territorial index would be helpful.

Format Physical Make-up
  • Hardcover
  • Binding is firm.
  • Layout
  • Two columns/page easy to scan
  • Headwords, allonyms, phrases, and numbered
    glosses in bold.
  • Font Size
  • Headword is fine, entry is a bit small.
  • Paper
  • Too thin.

Format Illustrations
  • End papers
  • Map of Caribbean Rimlands.
  • Map of Africa w/locations of languages
  • Appendix 1
  • Layout of Steelband.
  • Pictorial Questionnaire (not included)
  • Used during data collection.
  • Inclusion of pictures of particularly Caribbean
    items would have been useful.

Dictionary Specific Evaluation
  • Vocabulary 20,000 words phrases.
  • Includes Variant spellings.
  • Ex cat . a . pla (USVI) cat . a . palm (Dmca,
  • Headword is most common term for a gloss in the
  • Syllabication uses a centered period.
  • See example above

Dictionary Specific Evaluation
  • Pronunciation uses IPA symbols with modifications
    to show tone patterns.
  • Variant pronunciations are separated by a .
  • Ex. ce . ra . see sir?si s?rsi s?r?si
  • Tone-pattern shown using digits between slashes
    for some entries.
  • just now /1'2/ (Bdos) soon
  • just now /21/ (Bdos) a short while ago

Dictionary Specific Evaluation
  • Allonyms
  • A different term that is equivalent to the
  • Occurs in another territory.
  • Synonyms are similar terms.
  • Ex zug up vb phr (Trin) AF Joc
    chang-chang (Gren) To cut (a mans or boys) hair
    unevenly (as done by an untrained person).
  • Grammatical Information
  • Some need descriptive labels due to unique
    structure usage.
  • Ex is1 2. (ii) Unstressed interrog,
    introducing an emphatic question Is what wrong
    to he? one woman said to her neighbor…Is where
    dey bring he from at all? - SNWIC222

Dictionary Specific Evaluation
  • Glosses
  • Clear and succinct.
  • Full Taxonomic Identification for flora and
  • Subject labels identify context of the gloss.
  • Ex Z-pot zed-pot (CarA) Fishing Ind A
    fishpot constructed in the shape of a Z, with one
    funnel at each end.
  • Some entries include brief quotations to show

Dictionary Specific Evaluation
  • Etymologies
  • Provided wherever available.
  • Compiler states that they are often evidence of
    possible linkages, not as proof of direct
  • Need preface to decipher abbreviations and
  • Ex chaw c? vb (CarA) AF-Cr Chew chew on
    (sth for a long time). a. Yo never see dog chaw
    razor. Jmca (Prov) b. Since yuh mother didnt
    uses to let you chew chewing gum, you chawing
    pon tha pork skin till just before evensong and
    service. PeL (80.05.02, p.10, A. Clarke) OED
    chaw v a by-form of chew… used in Eng in 16C and
    now in Scand some E dialects..

Dictionary Specific Evaluation
  • Usage and Bias
  • Labels identify territorial use of an allonym.
  • Some terms include usage notes.
  • Levels of formalness.
  • Main Levels
  • F Formal
  • IF Informal
  • AF Anti-Formal
  • X Erroneous or Disaproved
  • Sub-Categories of AF
  • AF-CR Creole
  • AF-Joc Jocular
  • AF-Derog Derogatory
  • AF-Vul Vulgar

Dictionary Specific Evaluation
  • Encyclopedic Material
  • Generally is not encyclopedic
  • Area, population (1989-90 est.), and comment on
    each territory (usually year/month of
  • Taxonomic identification.
  • National bird, and national tree/flower of
  • Some quotes reveal historical information.
  • Layout of steel band.

  • Recommend to academic libraries.
  • Recommend to public and high school libraries in
    communities with significant proportion of
    speakers of Caribbean English.
  • Publisher should make Web or CD-ROM version.
  • Already cross-referenced.
  • Could include audio examples of pronunciation.

  • Allsopp, R. (Ed.). (1996). Dictionary of
    Caribbean English usage. New York Oxford
    University Press.
  • Allsopp, R. (1997). Cataloguing the Caribbean.
    English Today, 51 (3), 37-38.
  • Armstrong, E. (1996). Review of the book The
    dictionary of Caribbean English usage. The
    School Librarian, 44 (3), 127-128.
  • Cassidy, F. G., et al. (Eds.) (1985).
    Dictionary of American regional English (Vols.
    1-3). Cambridge, MA The Belknap Press of
    Harvard University Press.
  • Consultants and advisers. (2001). Oxford,
    England. Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved
    February 17, 2001 from the World Wide Web
  • Fairchild, C. A. (2001). Dictionaries. In R.
    E. Bopp L. C. Smith (Eds.) Reference and
    information services An introduction (3rd ed.,
    pp. 409-432).
  • Katz, W. A. (1997). Introduction to reference
    work Volume 1. (7th ed.)New York McGraw-Hill.
  • Kay, E. (Ed.). (1970). Dictionary of Caribbean
    Biography 1970 (1st ed. Vol. 1). London
    Melrose Press Ltd.
  • Martin, M. S. (1997). Review of the book The
    dictionary of Caribbean English usage. Choice,
    34 (9). 1473.
  • Simpson, J.A., et al.. (Eds.). (1989). The
    Oxford English dictionary (2nd ed., Vols. 1-20).
    New York Oxford University Press.
  • Wilhelm, A. (1997). Review of the book The
    dictionary of Caribbean English usage. American
    Reference Books Annual, 28, 384.
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