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“Provincial in England, but in common use with us”

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Abstract

This study explores the reception of American words in Joseph Wright’s English Dialect Dictionary (1898–1905). As agreed with the American Dialect Society in the late 1890s, Wright’s dictionary built upon a number of American sources that include dialectalisms likewise found on the other side of the Atlantic. One of the works on which Wright relied is John R. Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms (1848), whose lexicographic importance was not only attested by contemporary reviews, but also by modern national-scale projects like the Dictionary of Regional American English (1985–). The paper investigates the contribution of Bartlett’s work to Wright’s coverage of American English. It applies quantitative methods of analysis to determine the proportion of terms taken from this source, their role in the English Dialect Dictionary and how Wright dealt with them. Also, the analysis measures the importance of Bartlett’s work with regard to other American sources quoted in Wright’s dictionary. The aim is to further our knowledge of the source materials that laid the foundation of this lexicographic milestone, as well as gain insight into the lexical links existing between varieties of English in the Late Modern period.

References

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