Esperanto
Author: David Poulson


Dictionaries, Lanti and panties

Author: David Poulson
Published on: November 13, 1998

"You can never have too many pairs of panties and you can never have too many dictionaries."

I heard that definite assertion from my very good friend, Vera Payne, the first woman and the first Australian to be invited to come from overseas and teach at the Esperanto Summer School held at San Francisco State University each year. The 29th Summer School at SFSU will take place between July 6th and 24th, 1998, and you can get full details from : http://www.best.com/~donh/Esperanto/sfsu/#courses

Well, I'll take the first part of Vera's statement on faith and any of my readers who wear panties, are invited to comment. (Well, why be choosy?..I'd also welcome comments from any knickerless readers as well). But I certainly agree with her view of dictionaries. I love them, my bookshelves are stuffed with them, I'd hate to be without them and I wish I had more.

Among the ones I do have is an old, beat-up 3-volume Merriam Webster that weighs more than my trombone plus its case; an even more beat-up, 2-volume, Shorter Oxford, (which is fat, frayed and scruffy, just like its owner); an Oxford American Dictionary - of limited use, this one: for example, it defines a "carryall" as a bag, although in the novels of Tony Hillerman, (an author I like a lot) Indian cops in New Mexico apparently drive around in "carryalls" - strange! I also have a 1700 page Webster's biographical dictionary, an Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, a Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, a Dictionary of Fairies, a Dictionary of Fictional Characters, a Dictionary of Shakespeare Quotations, a Dictionary of Film Quotations, and a few others.

(If you haven't got a roomful of printed reference sources a good second best is to visit "My Virtual Reference Desk" at http://www.refdesk.com/myency.html This link will bring you to a collection of encylopedias but there are many other resources to be found at refdesk.com).

I even bought my wife the latest Collins Dictionary for her birthday some years ago. Bad idea ! She loved the present but now she beats me consistently at Scrabble. As well as everything else except chess. Which she doesn't know how to play.

And then there are my foreign language dictionaries...Anglo-Saxon, French, Italian, Spanish, German and Esperanto. I own half a dozen excellent Esperanto dictionaries, the oldest being the "Edinburgh" Esperanto pocket dictionary, first published by Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd in 1915 and revised regularly. My copy, in fact, is a 1960 reprint of the 15th edition published in 1933. According to the Preface, 47,000 copies of this dictionary were sold in the 18 years between 1915 and 1918. I also own three fine two-way dictionaries by Milledge, E. Butler and John Wells. (Professor John Wells, by the way, will be one of the guest instructors at the SFSU Summer School next year).

And then I have two indispensable treasures! La Plena Vortaro de Esperanto kun Suplemento published in 1971 (I only paid $4.70 for this! Incredible) and its mighty offspring, the 1300-page Plena Ilustrita Vortaro de Esperanto.

Without detracting in anyway from the dedicated and professionally skilled philologists and lexicographers who produced these dictionaries, the Vortaro and the Ilustrita Vortaro may never have seen the light of day had it not been for the inspiration provided by a remarkable man - Eugene Adam, much better known by his pseudonym: Lanti.

Next week I will begin a mini-series of articles with a general title: "What about the Workers?" in which I will tell you about Lanti, about the organization he founded in 1921, SAT, and about his lexicographical legacy to all Esperantists, whatever their class or political persuasion. The red flags (embellished with a green star on a white background) will be flying high for the next few weeks, brothers and sisters.

Don't say I didn't warn you! And please don't stay away.

Bondezirojn.

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