--- timpart@... wrote:

> Agustín Barahona recently said:
> > Thank you. By the way, just a question: In Spanish
> language we all have only one reference dictionary
> in order to appeal to authoritative concrete
> meanings, i.e., the Dictionary of the Spanish Royal
> Academy (DRAE). Is there any similar dictionary in
> English Language?
> In the UK the Oxford English Dictionary is the
> biggest. (Perhaps the biggest
> English dictionary in the world with 500,000 words
> and 2.5 million
> quotations?) It has always been been a descriptive
> dictionary saying how
> words have / are being used, and does not act as an
> authority as to how they
> ought to be used.

While I am a big fan of the OED, I don't believe it
has no prescriptive content at all. For instance look
at its entry for "philosophers' stone". All quotations
which have an apostrophe put it before the 's'. Other
Oxford dictionaries also put it before the 's'. The
full OED makes an analysis, a judgement, and then
prescribes only the apostrophe-after-s spelling,
omitting the other.

I don't have one handy but I'm pretty sure that even
the full OED prescribes 'tidal wave' is an error when
used as a synonyms for 'tsunami' even though it is
extremely common and their own first citations
show that 'tsunami' didn't even exist in English until
several decades after 'tidal wave' had been in popular
use in that sense.

There are surely other examples.

Apologoes for being OT but I think it's relevant for
this point.

Andrew Dunbar.

> Tim
> --
> Tim Partridge. Any opinions expressed are mine only
> and not those of my employer
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http://en.wiktionary.org -- http://linguaphile.sf.net/cgi-bin/translator.pl

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