Monthly Archives: February 2008

Monthly Lunch Meeting

On 14 March Mike Scott will present "A Demonstration of the Concordancing Program WordSmith" in 1168 004 from 11:00-13:00. All welcome! If you are interested in the possibilities of such programs, you can read the following article by Paul Baker. Download file

Peter Green and the English of Tristan da Cunha

At the moment Bas van Elburg is doing research into the English of Pieter Groen (Peter Green), a Dutchman who spent most of his life on the island of Tristan da Cunha (Atlantic Ocean) in the 19th and early 20th centuries. With hardly any formal education Pieter Groen boarded ships at an early age to hunt seals until he was shipwrecked off the coast of Tristan da Cunha in 1836. He decided to stay on the island and lived in a small community of people who, by the time of his arrival, had already developed an English dialect consisting of features from several British input varieties. A number of letters written by Pieter Groen in his later life, however, show a variety that is close to standard British English. A possible explanation for this is that he was an autodidact. Bas van Elburg would like to know if other cases exist of self-taught persons who acquired second (standard) language learning in similar circumstances.

Picard’s New Pocket Dictionary of English and Dutch (1843)

Recently, I received a request for information from Ms Yuriko Tsunekawa on H. Picard, A new pocket dictionary of the English and Dutch languages, published in 1843. This dictionary played an important big role in the development of the first Japanese English dictionary in Japan, which came out in 1862.

Ms Tsunekawa would particularly like to know more about the importance of the dictionary in the Netherlands at that time, and what other Dutch dictionaries could have served as a possible source for the Japanese dictionary. Other questions she has are whether Picard (1843) was an authorised dictionary, what it’s primary purpose was, whether it was merely a practical dictionary or whether it was also used by academics.

Please post your comments here, which will be much appreciated by Ms Tsunekawa.

Lowth’s bookcase

Just to show what a wonderful source ECCO is: it includes the first edition of Sheridan’s pronouncing dictionary. This book was published in 1780 and evidently by subscription, for the front matter includes a list of subscribers, including the Bishop of London, i.e. Lowth! However, the book is not listed in his Will, so I wonder what would have happened to it.

Lowth more given to melancholy than mirth?

The entry on Robert Lowth in the Oxford Companion to the English Language (McArthur 1992) opens by saying that  Lowth was “a philologist ‘more inclined to melancholy than to mirth’”. McArthur doesn’t identify the source of this quotation, and so far I haven’t been able to identify it myself. Does anyone know its origins?

Richard M. Hogg Prize

The Executive Committee for the International Society for the Linguistics of English (ISLE) would like to draw your attention to the Richard M. Hogg prize, an essay competition for students of English Language and English Linguistics. You can find further information about the prize here:

You can become a provisional member of ISLE by contacting the society’s secretary, Graeme Trousdale ( Please note that the closing date for submissions for the Hogg prize is 31 March 2008.