Erin M. McKean "Great geniuses have the shortest biographies." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson By Emerson's reckoning, all of the people mentioned in the Thorndike Barnhart Intermediate Dictionary (TBID) are great geniuses, because their biographies are exceedingly short. There are many questions to be answered when choosing biographical entries for school dictionaries. The first question may well be, "Why have biographical entries at all?" The reason may not be a noble one, but it is very persuasive: the user and the purchaser (who are not at all the same person!) expect them. American teachers and students expect their dictionaries to have a strong encyclopedic content, often including not only biographical entries, but geographical entries, maps, charts of weights and measures, information about the fifty states, and much more. The dictionary that falls short of these expectations will not have a long tenure in the marketplace. So biographical entries are a necessity. The second question that should be asked, but that may not come readily to mind, is, "How are biographies in school dictionaries different from biographies in other dictionaries?" The special constraints of the school dictionary need to be foremost in the mind of the lexicographer. School dictionaries are
Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America – Dictionary Society of North America
Published: Apr 4, 1998
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