Monday, April 26, 2010

Introduction to reference: Geographic sources

Geographic sources
  • help to locate places
  • usually deal with a time period, either current or historical
  • some deal with thematic or subject info
Categories of locational questions
  • current events
  • recreation
  • business
Historical geography
  • genealogy
  • military history
  • place name changes
Map: a drawing of all or part of the earth or universe, usually produced on a flat surface and almost always at a greatly reduced scale. • Physical maps: trace various features of the land, e.g. lakes, rivers, mountains. • Route maps: show features such as roads, railroads, bridges, hiking trails. • Political maps: show various political boundaries eg. towns, cities, counties, countries Some maps include all three types of info. Large flat maps provide the most detailed geographic info. Uses:
  • finding details of a local area such as streets, public buildings, churches, schools
  • look at growth or decline of an area
  • look at topography, drainage systems, woodland cover, and other physical and cultural features
Atlas: a planned or systematic collection of geographical maps bound in book form or kept loose in a binder or slipcase. Can provide whole world in one volume at nominal cost.
  • Geographical: show important geographical or political features of the world.
  • Historical: show boundary changes, military campaigns, or early exploration.
  • Thematic: emphasize a specific subject or region, include national, population and geographical atlases
  • locate places, countries
  • understand historical development of a country or region
  • look at a specific subject or theme in more detail e.g. world population
Gazetteer: geographical dictionary, usually of place names or physical features. Compliment and supplement atlases. Can be part of an atlas like an index or be separate publications.
  • Locational: provide info for precise location of feature either by atlas page and grid index or by latitude and longitude
  • Descriptive: locational info plus description e.g. brief history, population, altitude, commodities, etc.
  • Find where a specific city, mountain, river, or other physical feature is located
  • Find additional info such as population or perhaps leading economic characteristics of an area.
Cartography: the art and science of map making. Cartographer: a map maker. Travel guides: provide info about a place or country written to meet the needs of a particular group e.g. students, or level, e.g. inexperienced, traveler. May be written to meet the needs of the armchair traveler. Uses:
  • inform travelers about what to see, where to stay, where to eat and how to get there
  • provides a lot of detail about specific places e.g. museums, restaurants, art galleries, historic attractions, churches, etc.
The only relatively accurate graphical representation of the earth is a globe but the need for a globe in a reference situation is probably questionable. Evaluation criteria Maps and atlases have unique evaluation criteria Scale and projection
  • Scale: ratio of distance on map to actual distance in real world
  • Projection: method used to transfer a curved section of the earth to a flat, two dimensional surface.
Scale: most important element of a map as it defines the amount of info that can be shown, as well as the size of the geographical area.
  • The smaller the right hand number, the larger the scale of the map 1:75,000 is a larger scale map than 1:600,000 which is a small scale map.
  • The larger the scale, the smaller the area the map can cover, but the greater amount of detail that it can include about that area.
  • Scales given in numbers called representative fractions (RF):
    1:100,000 means one unit of distance on the map equals 100,000 of the same unit on the surface being portrayed, e.g. the earth
  • Small-scale maps are used for maps of wide areas where not much detail is required. For example, a small-scale map of Europe (e.g. 1:12,000,000) would fit on a single page (typically 8 inches by 11 inches).
  • A medium-scale map of San Francisco (e.g. 1:300,000) would fit on a single page.
  • Large-scale means a more detailed map. They are used in large applications where detailed local maps are required. A large-scale map of a small town (e.g. 1:24,000) would fit on a single page.
Projection All maps are imprecise because projection of the earth’s curved surface onto a flat surface results in some distortion. To minimize or control distortion cartographers have developed numerous scientific map projections each of which has its own special uses, e.g. on world maps:
  • Mercator projection shows correct shape of land masses but distorts their size.
  • Google’s Interrupted Homolosine projection allows fairly faithful representation of both the shape and size of large land masses but distorts and interrupts the ocean area.
Mercator projection Goode's interrupted Homolosine Colour and symbols Colour used for: political boundaries, contour lines, water, roads, railways, buildings, highways, vegetation, etc. Symbols: amount and type controlled by scale of map Map should be legible and easy to interpret. It should not be too cluttered. Publisher/Authority
  • national mapping authority
  • Rand McNally, C.S. Hammond, National Geographic Society, John Bartholomew, Oxford University Press, Michelin
Indexing/Place-names As a rule, atlases lacking a general index, or at least separate map indexes should be avoided.
  • Does index include all places and features shown on maps?
  • Approx. how many entries are included?
  • Single alphabet at back or separate indexes for each map or series of maps?
  • Does index effectively refer you to right map and right point on map?
  • How are variant place-names treated, and is there adequate cross-referencing?
  • Does index offer any info beyond place-names and map references e.g. pronunciations, population stats?
Currency Copyright date and date when maps prepared can vary widely. May represent a new printing with only minor corrections vs. a new edition with major revisions.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

An introduction

A dictionary is an alphabetically arranged publication containing information about words, meanings, spelling, pronunciation, syllabication and usages. It may also give synonyms, anonyms, illustrative quotations, maps and plates, biographical facts and geographical information. The word ‘dictionary’ comes from the Latin diction, meaning a word or a phrase.
Related terms

A thesaurus is a work containing synonymous and related words and phrases rather than explaining meanings. The word thesaurus (of Greek origin) means a storehouse or treasury of knowledge. The term thesaurus is used to describe dictionaries which arrange words in classified order and not in the usual alphabetical order. It is also used for a list of controlled terms used in a database.
A lexicon is a dictionary, most often of ancient languages – e.g. Greek, Hebrew and Arabic. The term is derived from the Greek lexis meaning words.

A glossary is an alphabetical list of definitions. The list may relate to words used in a particular book or to a particular subject.

A glossary is an alphabetical index of important words in a book, or the works of an author, with references to the phrases and passages in the text. Examples include concordances to the Bible, or a particular author – e.g. Shakespeare and Chaucer.
Categories of dictionaries
Dictionaries are categorized according to the number of words listed:
Unabridged: over 250,000 words
Semi-abridged: 130,000-250,000 words
Abridged/Concise: 55,000-130,000 words
Pocket: under 55,000 words
Children’s/School: 25,000-95,000 words
Find an example of each of the following types of dictionaries and list the titles.
  1. Adult
  2. Children’s (these include definitions in simple language and use large type
  3. Regional
  4. Synonyms and antonyms
  5. Slang
  6. Usage
  7. Abbreviations and acronyms
  8. Subject (these include highly specialized words)
  9. Foreign language (these offer the foreign word and English equivalent, but not the meaning)
  10. Crossword (arranged by the nuer of letters in a word, or by the definition)
  11. Dialect
  12. Obsolete words
  13. New words
  14. Names
  15. Quotations
  16. Rhyming
  17. Eponyms (words based on a person’s name – e.g. Braille, wellington boot, peach melba)
Use of dictionaries
Dictionaries are likely to include the following details about a word:
  • spelling with preferred variants
  • syllabication – division into units of pronunciation
  • part of speech – verb, noun, adverb, etc.
  • etymology – origin
  • definition – the exact meaning
  • synonyms – a word or phrase meaning exactly or nearly the same
  • antonyms – a word or phrase opposite in meaning
  • illustrative quotations – to show how a word is used
  • usage labels – e.g. slang, obsolete, US
  • abbreviations
  • illustrations – e.g. pictures, diagrams
They are used in a reference section to check the meaning, pronunciation and spelling of words. They may be used as a guide to correct grammar, to find out usage of words or to explain the origin of a word. Dictionaries are useful if you are preparing a literature search or answering a reference query on an unfamiliar subject. Editorial approaches There are two approaches to editing a dictionary. The prescriptive approach – lays down ‘correct’ standards of word acceptability and usage. The editors must follow tradition and prevent combination of the pure language by jargon. The descriptive approach – records words as they are used (and misused) without passing judgment. A particular word used often enough becomes acceptable. Descriptive is the more common and modern approach. When illustrating the definition of a word, the editors use quotes not only from ‘good’ literature but also from newspapers, TV and speeches. Examining a dictionary Most people who consult a dictionary never read its instructions on use – are you guilty of this? Dictionaries usually include the following features:
  • a preface which states the scope of the publication as well as its aim
  • a key to abbreviation
  • a key to pronunciation which may use the phonetic alphabet or re-spell the words using the ordinary alphabet
  • the main sequence of words which is usually in alphabetical order but may occasionally be in classified order. It may be word by word or letter by letter. The content of entries gives lots of information – e.g. origin, history, how the word is used.
  • a supplementary sequence of words which may update the main sequence or deal with special categories of words – e.g. meanings of first names. It may include encyclopedic information – e.g. weights and measures, lists of royalty, chemical compounds, etc.
You need to examine all sections of a dictionary before you can use it fully and efficiently. Evaluating a dictionary In order to decide whether a dictionary will suit your purposes, you should consider the following points: Authority - This is determined by who has compiled the dictionary and who published it. Ease of use - A good dictionary includes clear introductory information on its purpose, scope and features, keys to abbreviations and pronunciation. Word coverage - The word coverage may be limited, because it is impossible for a general dictionary to be comprehensive without becoming excessively large. A dictionary needs regular updating to include new words and changes in usage. Word treatment - It is important to know how a dictionary treats its words – does it give etymology, quotations, illustrations? The definitions must be clear and accurate. Which dictionary? When deciding which dictionary to use:
  1. Listen to or read the question carefully. Look for keywords which will help you decide which source to use – e.g. the question ‘Who said “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”?’ would lead you to a dictionary of quotations.
  2. Make sure you know what information is required. Does the enquirer want a meaning of a word or its origins?
  3. Decide whether the question indicates which country the word is used in. Does it give clues to the origin of the word – e.g. that it derives from a particular language?
Exercise Using a general purpose dictionary (eg the Concise Oxford dictionary or the Macquarie dictionary), decide which word in the following pairs is spelt correctly. Exercise Using a general purpose dictionary (eg the Concise Oxford dictionary or the Macquarie dictionary), decide which word in the following pairs is spelt correctly.
grafitti graffiti anomaly anomoly
diptheria >diphtheria accommodate accomodate
proceed procede receive recieve
concensus consensus rhythym rhythm
commitment committment preceeding >
Exercise Choose 2 of the following words and compare their definitions in 3 different dictionaries.
fierce patch
stalwart doll
retire combine
nick case
inhale fantastic
Exercise Search on the Internet to find a range of dictionaries. Choose a search engine such as Yahoo at Click on Reference, then on Dictionaries. Choose 5 subject-specific dictionaries and write the titles below.
Exercise Choose examples of dictionaries in print or electronic form from the list below. Fill in the details for as many as you can locate. Photocopy the headings if you need additional space.
Acronyms, initialisms and abbreviations dictionary Fowler's modern English usage
Australian dictionary of acronyms and abbreviationsMacquerie dictionary
Black's medical dictionaryOxford dictionary of quotations
Brewer's dictionary of phrase and fableRoget's thesaurus of English words and phrases
Chambers science and technology dictionaryShorter Oxford English dictionary
Collins concise dictionaryWebster's third new international dictionary
Title Place, publisher, date Intended user group Arrangement Special features Exercise Using sources you are familiar with, suggest a type of dictionary which is likely to provide the answers to the following questions – e.g. a medical dictionary. (You do not need to give the exact title or bibliographic details.)
1. What is herpetology? General English dictionary
2. What does the Australian term cozzie mean? Australian dictionary
3. What is the origin of the phrase 'son of a gun'? Phrases
4. What does the acronym GUBU stand for? Acronym
5. What is the meaning of the medical term axilla? Medical
6. What is the difference between elemental and elementary and how should these words be used? Usage
7. Can you find a synonymn for the word habitual? Synonym, thesaurus
8. What does the Australian acronymn MEG stand for? Acronym
9. What is the origin of the word penguin? Historical principles
10. What does the scientific term 'inertial damping' mean? Scientific
11. I am looking for a word with a meaning similar to peaceful. Synonym, thesaurus
12. When was the word lurch first used? Historical principles
13. What is a New York cut? American
14. Skite is a word used in Australian slang. What does it mean? Australian
15. What does the abbreviation 'Br J Admin L' stand for? Abbreviations
16. What is the Spanish word for handkerchief? Spanish
17. When would I use the word prescribe instead of proscribe? Usage
18. Who said 'a man will turn over half a library to make one book'? Quotations
19. I am in a hurry and need a definition of the word incorrigible. General English
20. Where are the metatarsal bones located in the human body? Medical
Exercise Find the answer to these questions using a dictionary. Name the source and give its bibliographic details.
  1. Can you find a synonym for the word intellect?
    mind, psyche, mentality
    Roget’s thesaurus of English words and phrases. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984, p. 181.
  2. What does solar plexus mean?
    network of nerves situated behind the stomach that supply the abdominal organs
    Collins concise dictionary, 3rd ed. Sydney: Harper Collins, 1995, p. 1279.
  3. When was the word break-neck first used?
    Shorter Oxford English dictionary, 3rd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, c1973, p. 233.
  4. What colour is american beauty?
    A deep purplish red.
    Webster’s third new international dictionary. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, c1993, p. 68.
  5. What does NEBM stand for?
    No eating between meals.
    Acronyms, initalisms and abbreviations dictionary. 22nd ed. Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research, c1997, vol. 1. part 2., p. 2452.
  6. Find examples of how the word son-in-law was used in the 1800s.
    “How would you find him for a son-in-law?”
    Shorter Oxford English dictionary, 3rd ed., Oxford: Clarendon Press, c1973, p. 2030.
  7. When would I use the term imaginary instead of imaginative?
    Imaginary = not real; imaginative = inventive, original
    Fowler’s Modern English Usage, 3rd ed., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996, p. 380.
  8. What is the scientific instrument called an integrating meter?
    an electrical instrument which sums up the value of the quantity measured with respect to time Chambers science and technology dictionary. Cambridge: Chambers-Cambridge, c1988, p.489.
  9. What does the Australian acronym MMBW stand for?
    Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works
    Australian dictionary of acronyms and abbreviations, 4th ed., Canberra: ALIA Press, c1995, p. 289
  10. What is a pea jacket?
    A sailor’s short heavy woolen overcoat.
    Collins’ concise dictionary, 3rd ed., Sydney: HarperCollins, 1995, p. 389.
  11. What is a lincoln rocker which was named after the US President, Abraham Lincoln?
    A type of high-backed rocking chair
    Webster’s third new international dictionary, Springfield, Massachusetts, Merriam-Webster, c1993, p.314
  12. Can you find a word with a meaning similar to ascent?
    accession, lift, upward motion, gaining height
    Roget’s thesaurus of English words and phrases, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984, p. 181
  13. What is the recommended plural for bureau?
    Fowlers’ modern English usage, 3rd ed., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996, p. 120
  14. What does the Australian term nong mean?
    a fool, a idiot
    Macquarie dictionary, 3rd ed., North Ryde, N.S.W, Macquarie Library, 1997, p. 1465.
  15. Find a word for tomorrow in two other languages.
    domain – Italian
    Cassell’s Italian-English, English-Italian dictionary, 7th ed., London: Cassell, 1967, p. 1026.
    morgen – German
    Cassell’s German-English, English-German dictionary, Rev. ed., London: Cassell, c1978, p. 1497.
  16. What does the expression ‘on the never-never’ mean?
    to get or buy something on hire purchase
    Brewer’s dictionary of phrase and fable, 15th ed., London, Cassell, 1995, p. 741.
  17. What is the French word for laugh?
    Cassell’s French-English, English-French dictionary, London, Cassell, 1962, p. 287.
  18. What is the meaning of the medical term coryza?
    the technical name of a ‘cold in the head’
    Black’s medical dictionary, 36th ed., London, Black, c1990, p. 172.
  19. Who was described in the quote ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’?
    Lord Byron – described by Lady Caroline Lamb.
    Oxford dictionary of quotations, 3rd ed., Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 306.
  20. What does the Australian expression ‘daylight robbery’ mean?
    a shameless attempt to rob, overcharge or cheat someone
    Macquarie dictionary, 3rd ed., Macquarie University, N.S.W., Macquarie Library, 1997, p. 555.
Encyclopedias Introduction An encyclopedia is a systematic summary of all significant knowledge or a summary of the knowledge on one subject. All encyclopedias are selective to some extent; they may be in a single volume or a multi-volume set. A single volume cannot give depth of coverage, but it is useful for factual information and cheaper than a multi-volume set. When using an encyclopedia you should always read the introduction to find out the strengths and features as well as how the information is organized. Along with dictionaries, encyclopedias are the most frequently consulted reference tools. The primary use is to search for specific facts – i.e. to answer who, what, where, when and how. They are often the first step towards a more extended search. General encyclopedias are usually shelved together. Subject encyclopedias are classified according to subject, and are therefore dispersed through the collection. Characteristics Encyclopedias provide background information, and are not usually intended for the subject specialist. Articles are written by subject experts and adapted by editorial staff. Those signed by contributors are more likely to be authoritative. Most articles include a bibliography listing further reading. Most encyclopedias adopt a policy of continuous revision. Approximately 10-15% of the contents is updated annually, and topics involving current events are updated more frequently. Some publishers issue yearbooks to update the main sequence, or supplements for particular regions. The majority of multi-volume general encyclopedias in English are now published in the United States, which has lower production costs and a larger market than the United Kingdom. Uses An encyclopedia may be used to provide the following information:
  • brief factual details where there is little controversy – e.g. to answer questions like ‘Who was Helen Porter Mitchell?’
  • an introduction to or an overview of a topic for the non-expert
  • referral to other more detailed works through a bibliography at the end of the article.
An encyclopedia is usually the first source used by those seeking factual information. If the required information is not contained in the encyclopedia, the list of readings may lead you to other sources. Exercise Find an example of each of the following types of encyclopedias and list the titles. General Subject National Foreign language Electronic encyclopedias Many encyclopedias are now available on CD-ROM or the Internet. These formats enhance the contents by adding animation and sound effects. Another advantage of electronic reference works is that cross-referencing is easily achieved by the use of hypertext. This allows a reader to click on an indicated word for further or related information. As with the printed form, each encyclopedia is designed for a certain audience, and the information is tailored to serve that group. In evaluating these forms of encyclopedias, you must be aware of the following considerations:
  • Is the encyclopedia based on a printed version, even if it is under a different name?
  • Is the information up to date?
  • Are the pictures and sounds relevant to that particular article?
  • Is the name of the contributor given?
  • Is there a bibliography or further reading?
  • Is the information easy to find?
Exercise Browse the reference shelves in the library. Find 5 examples of subject-specific encyclopedias and list the titles. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Exercise Choose two of the topics listed and compare the coverage in two general encyclopedias – e.g. Encyclopedia Britannia and World book encyclopedia.
Architecture Pompeii
Mexico City Pelicans
The Red Cross Jane Austen
Trombones Halley's Comet
Albert Einstein Weightlifting
Which encyclopedia? When deciding which encyclopedia to use:
  1. Listen to or read the question carefully and decide whether the information is likely to be in a general or a subject-specific encyclopedia.
  2. Find out how much information is required. Some questions will be answered adequately in a general encyclopedia. For example, the answer to ‘where was Alexander the Great born?’ could be found in a single volume encyclopedia. If the enquirer asked for a list of campaigns which Alexander the Great fought and a description of the major battles including maps of the battlefields, you would need a more detailed encyclopedia such as Encyclopaedia Britannica.
  3. Decide whether the question indicates a particular subject or country – e.g. if the enquirer wants information on a technical scientific topic, you would use a scientific encyclopedia rather than a general encyclopedia.
Exercise Search on the Internet to find a range of encyclopedias. You should choose a search engine such as Yahoo at Click on Reference, then on Encyclopedia. Write the titles of 5 encyclopedias. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Exercise Choose examples of encyclopedias in print or electronic form from the list below. Fill in the details for as many as you can locate (at least 5). Photocopy the headings if you need additional space. Australian encyclopaedia International encyclopedia of the social sciences Cambridge encyclopedia McGraw-Hill encyclopedia of science and technology Chambers encyclopaedia Microsoft Encarta Colier's encyclopedia The new Encyclopaedia Britannica The encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia World book encylopedia Grolier's encyclopedia
Title Place, publisher, date Intended user group Arrangement Special features Exercise
Using sources you are familiar with, suggest a type of encyclopedia which is likely to provide the answers to the following questions – e.g. an Australian encyclopedia. (You do not need to give the exact title or bibliographic details.)
1. Who was Yuri Gagarin?General
2. My primary school child wants some information on the flags of the world.Children's general
3. When was the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia established?Australian
4. Where is the Skeena River?General
5. Who wrote the American national anthem 'The Star-Spangled Banner'?American
6. I am writing an essay on nuclear structure and need some information on this topic.Scientific
7. I would like a complete list of the works by Charles Dickens and detailed information about his influence on English literature.Detailed encyclopedia
8. Can you find some illustrations on battles fought during the American Civil War?American
9. How do fluorescent lights work?Scientific
10. I want some information on the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra.Australian
11. Where is the Amritsar and what is it famous for?General
12. My child is very interested in elephants and would like some background reading on this topic.Children's
13. When was television first seen in Australia?Australian
14. I am writing a thesis on the family in society and would like to find detailed information on this topic, including a bibliography of relevant publications.Social sciences
15. Mary Reiby appears on the Australian $20 note. Who was she?Australian
16. I would like to read more about the history of museums. Could you find some major works on this subject for me?Detailed information
17. What does a gorilla eat?General
18. Could you find some detailed information on nuclear reactors?Scientific
19. Why did the United States enter World War II?American
20. Where would I find some information on Henry Savery, author of the first novel written, printed and published in Australia?Australian
Exercise Find the answer to these questions using encyclopedias. Name the source and give its bibliographic details.
  1. Why is Amy Johnson famous?
    She was the first woman to make a solo flight from England to Australia.
    World book encyclopedia, 5th ed., London, World Book, c1996, vol. 11, p. 132.
  2. I want some information on Australian folklore.
    Australian encyclopedia, 6th ed., Terrey Hills, N.S.W., Australian Geographic, 1996, vol. 4, pp. 1380-1385.
  3. Sir Alexander Fleming won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1945. Who shared the prize with him?
    Sir Howard Florey and Ernst B. Chain
    World book encyclopedia, 5th ed., London, World Book, c1996, vol. 7, p. 225.
  4. Where is Ndola?
    It is the second largest town in Zambia.
    The new encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., Chicago, Encyclopedia Britannica, c1997, Micropaedia vol. 8, p. 572.
  5. I would like to find a list of works written by John Locke, the English philosopher and political theorist.
    International encyclopedia of the social sciences, N.Y., Macmillan, 1968, vol. 9, pp. 464-471.
  6. Where can I find some information on the United States Postal Service?
    Collier’s encyclopedia, N.Y., Collier, c1993, vol. 19, pp.292-296.
  7. I am about to start my thesis on East Asian arts and would like some background information.
    The new encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., Chicago, Encyclopedia Britannica, c1997, Macropaedia vol. 17, pp. 667-771.
  8. My primary school child needs some information on the Olympic Games.
    World book encyclopedia, 5th ed., London, World Book, c1996, vol. 14, p, 432-446.
  9. Where is Finniss Springs, a former mission station which was operated by the United Aborigines Mission?
    50 km south of Lake Eyre and West of Marree, S.A.
    Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia, Canberra, Aboriginal Studies Press, 1994, vol. 1, p. 364.
  10. What is the French name for the city Aachen?
    The new encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., Chicago, Encyclopedia Britannica, c1997, Micropaedia vol. 1, p. 1.
  11. Where did Adelaide Ironside, the Australian artist, die?
    Australian encyclopedia, 6th ed., Terrey Hills, N.S.W., Australian Geographic, 1996, vol. 5, p. 1766.
  12. I need some detailed information on Greek and Roman civilizations.
    The new encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., Chicago, Encyclopedia Britannica, c1997, Macropaedia vol. 20, pp. 205-341.
  13. When was daylight saving first introduced in Australia?
    Australian encyclopedia, 6th ed., Terrey Hills, N.S.W., Australian Geographic, 1996, vol. 3, p. 1021.
  14. Does your library have any information on the theory of social control?
    International encyclopedia of the social sciences, N.Y., Macmillan, 1968, vol. 14, pp. 381-402.
  15. Where would I find detailed information on rocket propulsion?
    McGraw-Hill encyclopedia of science and technology, 8th ed., N.Y., McGraw-Hill, c1997, vol. 15, pp. 623-638.
  16. What was the title of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s autobiography?
    Eight years and more 1815-1897.
    The new encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., Chicago, Encyclopedia Britannica, c1997, Micropaedia vol. 11, p. 216.
  17. Why was the Statue of Liberty built?
    It commemorates the alliance of 1778 between France and the US.
    Collier’s encyclopedia, N.Y., Collier, c1993, vol. 14, p. 556.
  18. I want some information about Coranderk, an Aboriginal reserve near Healesville, Victoria.
    Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia, Canberra, Aboriginal Studies Press, 1994, vol. 1, p. 231.
  19. What is the population of Iowa’s principal cities?
    Collier’s encyclopedia, N.Y., Collier, c1993, vol. 13, p. 213.
  20. Where would I find a comprehensive list of books on linguistics?
    The new encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., Chicago, Encyclopedia Britannica, c1997, Macropaedia vol. 23, p. 71.
Gosling, Mary. Learn Reference Work. Canberra: DocMatrix, 2001. pp.44-53.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Introduction to reference: Dictionaries: representative titles


The Canadian Oxford dictionary

Gage Canadian dictionary

ITP Nelson Canadian dictionary

Dictionary of Canadianisms on historical principals

Oxford English dictionary

Concise Oxford dictionary of current English

Webster’s third new international dictionary of the English language, unabridged

Random House unabridged dictionary

Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary

Random House Webster’s college dictionary

Chambers English dictionary

Dictionary of American slang

Dictionary of slang and unconventional English

Cold as a Bay Street banker’s heart: the ultimate Prairie phrase book

Fitzhenry & Whiteside Canadian thesaurus

Roget’s international thesaurus

The new Fowler’s modern English usage

Guide to Canadian English usage

Acronyms, initalisms & abbreviations dictionary

Selected online sites
Contains American heritage dictionary of the English language. 4th ed.
American Heritage ® Book of English usage. 1996.
Roget’s II: The New Thesaurus, Third edition. 1995.

Merriam-Webster online
Contains a dictionary and a thesaurus.

Chambers 21st century dictionary
Chambers thesaurus

Collins English dictionary 2000 ed.
British. Site contains Spanish-English dictionary, French-English dictionary, Italian-English dictionary, German-English dictionary.

Compact Oxford English Dictionary of Current English.

A dictionary of slang
From British perspective but covers all English-speaking countries. Includes graphic content and some links are sexually explicit.

The WorldWideWeb Acronym and Abbreviation Server

OneLook Dictionaries

Internet Public Library

Monday, April 5, 2010

World atlas and dictionary roundup

Each spring, the Reference Books Bulletin section of Booklist provides updated information on current, recommended atlases and dictionaries. The May 15 issue of Booklist prints reviews of new titles, revisions, and new editions. Here on the Web site you can find a more comprehensive list, to which excerpts of the reviews of new and revised titles have been added.

The following sources are recommended for public, academic, and high-school libraries, based on currency, quality, cost, and availability. All have been published from late 1999 through early 2002 except for an unabridged dictionary and major atlas that do not yet have new editions for the new millennium. The recommended titles are listed by type and the purchaser may choose within types depending on individual preferences or needs.

The Classic

The Times Atlas of the World. 10th ed. 1999. Times, $250 (0-8129-3265-X).
Although this edition has a 1999 copyright, it is still the pinnacle of atlases. There are 248 pages of digitally produced maps in light hues and clear typeface. For each continent there are at least 10 plates, with increasing definition with each map. The major weakness is the lack of city maps that were included in earlier editions.

Major Atlases
National Geographic Atlas of the World. 7th ed. 1999. 134 p. National Geographic, $150 (0-7922-7528-4).
Another late 1999 publication, this rivals the dimensions of the Times atlas (at approximately 18 inches by 12 inches) but has fewer pages, fewer index entries, and fewer maps. However, the atlas does a fine job with U.S. maps, which have more entries on each map. Also included is a section of city maps for each continent.

The New International World Atlas. 25th anniversary ed. 1999. 1,200 p. Rand McNally, $150 (0-528-83808-3).
This is the only major atlas that has text in five languages (English, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese). The maps have shaded relief that gives a three-dimensional impression. The 160,000 entries in the index use longitude and latitude as the key for location (other atlases use a grid system). A separate section has 65 city maps, including Jakarta, Saigon, and Taipei.

Medium-Sized Atlases
Atlas of the World. 10th ed. 2002. 448 p. Oxford, $85 (0-19-521919-8)
Oxford advertises that its Atlas of the World is updated annually and in some instances this is true. Some of the statistical information in the thematic section is new and a page in the agriculture section updates a map regarding the “Crisis in Africa” with reference to the recent drought. A page of lists of countries and their population includes 2001 estimates. The company asserts that there is a “brand new…Gazetteer of Nations” but the text appears to be identical to the ninth edition except for the elimination of part of the information on Djibouti so that East Timor, a new country in May 2002, will fit in. Some of the statistics in the gazetteer have changed and there are a few new country flags. The page in the introduction entitled “World: Regions in the News” has changed – Afghanistan and Colombia are added and Caucasus and India are removed.

The maps appear to be similar to those in the ninth edition with the addition of national parks and nature reserves around the world. There are a few revisions. The New York City map indicates the former site of the World Trade Center. This and other city maps are still in a separate section with a separate index.

DK World Atlas. 2nd ed. 2000. 354 p. DK, $50 (0-7864-5962-0)
DK’s first atlas was published in 1997 and has now been revised. Although the publisher maintains that all maps have been completely updated and revised, the number of maps (450) and entries (80,000) in the index remain about the same. A geographical comparisons section has been added, with lists such as the least populous countries (Vatican City is at the top) and richest countries based on GNP per capita (Luxembourg is first; the U.S. is tenth). The maps are smaller than in some atlases, making room on the page for text, photos, charts and thematic maps.

Hammond Concise World Atlas. 2000. 238 p. Hammond, $45 (0-8437-1386-0); paper, $29.95 (0-8437-1387-9).
Hammond’s midpriced atlas has 138 pages of maps with 60,000 entries in the index. There are a number of inset maps and a few pages of maps of metropolitan areas of the world, including some in the U.S. These metropolitan areas are also included in the Hammond World Atlas, listed below.

Hammond World Atlas. 4th ed. 2002. 480 p. Hammond, $75. (0-8437-1836-6).
The fourth edition of the Hammond World Atlas is really a new edition from the “Mapmakers of the 21st Century.” Changes from the third edition, published in 2000, include a “Thematic Section” that has a broader scope, and a new 48-page “Satellite Photo Section”. The most important part of the atlas, the “Map Section,” contains 180 maps in a similar arrangement to the previous edition. The physical maps are from actual digital elevation data using new colors. There are new maps – one of Alaska almost fills a page and Hawaii is a quarter of a page. The New York City map has been updated since 9/11. Recommended as a first purchase among medium-sized atlases for academic, public and high school libraries.

National Geographic Family Reference Atlas of the World. 2002. 351p. National Geographic, $65 (0-7922-6930-6)
This atlas is a smaller version of the standard National Geographic Atlas of the World (National Geographic, 1999). There are both political and physical maps of the continents and the oceans. On each regional map page are also information boxes that give brief data and flag pictures for all nations and territories. Inset maps of all major island nations and territories are also provided. Accompanying thematic maps show population density, land use and weather averages for the regions. World maps with information on the economy, crops, mining, Internet connectivity and many other topics are presented with text to explain their significance.

The World Book Atlas. 2001. 240p. World Book, $57 (0-7166-2651-9).
World Book uses Rand McNally maps, so the 60 maps are similar to those in The New International Atlas. The index lists 54,000 place-names. Because the publishers hope this is purchased in conjunction with The World Book Encyclopedia there is little supplementary material.

School or desk atlases
DK Concise Atlas of the World. 2001. 384 p. DK, $29.95 (0-7894-8002-6).
Based on the DK World Atlas, this one follows the DK format of having lots of information on every page. In addition to maps of continents, there are 75 regional maps accompanied by graphs and tables with supplementary material.

Essential World Atlas. 3d ed. 2001. 232 p. Oxford, $24.95 (0-19-521790-X).
Some of the information in this atlas is similar to that in the larger Atlas of the World. The Essential has a separate city map section and fewer maps overall – less than 15 of the U.S. To make the most of the limited space, some of the maps are sideways on the page, so, for example, an area from northern Minnesota to southern Texas is displayed on a double-page spread.

Hammond Citation World Atlas. 2000. 328 p. Hammond, paper, $19.95 (0-8437-1295-3).
The arrangement of this atlas differs from other Hammond offerings. There is no comprehensive index or gazetteer, so place-names are included on the same page or adjacent page of the map. This works well only if you know, for example, that Versalles is in Bolivia, not Brazil. The maps do not have the unique shading that the more expensive Hammond atlases use, but individual U.S. state maps show clear county boundaries. State flags are included as well as nickname, state flower, and bird.

Illustrated Atlas of the World. 4th ed. 192 p. 2001. Readers’ Digest, $26.95 (0-7621-0343-4).
Published by Readers’ Digest with 80 maps by Bartholomew and 30,000 place-names, this atlas provides basic continent and country maps. The atlas is enhanced with color photographs on pages with supplementary maps – population, climate, and so forth. Flags and concise country information are also included.

Compact Atlases
DK Compact World Atlas. 2001. 192 p. DK, $13 (0-7894-7987-7).
Described as an atlas for the family, this is a good choice for a library’s circulating collection. There are 60 clear, simple maps with 20,000 entries in the index. A fact file contains statistics and flags of countries of the world. A note on the back of the title page provides a URL for updated information.

Hammond Explorer World Atlas. Rev. ed. by Hammond World Atlas Corp. 2001. 132 p. Hammond, paper, $12.95 (0-8437-1357-7).
There are 90 pages of maps, with eight pages devoted to the U.S., and two additional pages of U.S. city maps. Also included are country flags and a reference guide.

Rand McNally Premier World Atlas. 2d ed. 2000. 144 p. Rand McNally, paper, $15.95 (0-528-83894-6). This economical atlas has 144 pages of maps, along with a page or two about each continent accompanied by colorful photographs. There are individual U.S. state maps.

The Classic

The Compact Oxford English Dictionary: Complete Text Reproduced Micrographically. 2d. ed. Ed. by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. 1991. 2,416 p. Oxford, $395 (0-19-861258-3).
The Oxford English Dictionary. 20v. 2d ed. Ed. by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. 1989. 22,000 p. Oxford, $995 (0-19-861186-2).
The Oxford English Dictionary on CD-ROM: Version 3.0. 2002. Oxford, $295 (0-19-521888-4).
The Oxford English Dictionary Online. 2000. Oxford, pricing from $795. []
Ideally, any library that can afford it should have some version of this great dictionary. Practically, every library does not have it; but anyone with a college education should be aware that it exists.

Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. 2 v. 5th ed. 2002. 3,750 p. index. Oxford, $150 (0-19-860575-7).
Considering it was twenty years between the third and fourth editions of this work, this “abridgement” of Oxford’s flagship OED after fewer than ten years is most welcome. Though general coverage remains largely unchanged from the fourth edition, some welcome changes have been made.

Like the previous edition, this work “sets out the main meanings and semantic developments of words current at any time between 1700 and the present day”. It has “more than one third coverage of the OED” and more than half a million definitions, with 83,500 illustrative quotations from 7,000 authors. Some 3,500 new words have been added. The most welcome change to this edition is that the text is much easier on the eyes than in the fourth edition. With both OED Online and the print Oxford English Dictionary too expensive for most libraries, this is a reasonably priced work deserving a place in almost every library.

Unabridged dictionaries
Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary. 2d ed. 2001. 2,230 p. Random, $49.95 (0-375-42566-7).
This is a slight revision of the Random House Dictionary of the English Language (2d ed., 1987). A 1,000-entry new word section begins the volume. COM (as in Comedy Central); Heaney, Seamus; and spam are listed here, but so is pyracantha, which was in Webster’s New International Dictionary, second edition, published in 1937. The main part of the dictionary still contains 315,000 words with black-and-white illustrations. Ready-reference material is incorporated into the definitions – a list of selected airport codes, Morse Code, members of the United Nations, and more. For many words the approximate date of first use is mentioned.

Webster’s Third New International Dictionary: Unabridged. By Philip Babcock Gove. 1993. 2,783 p. Merriam-Webster, $119 (0-87779-201-1).
This famous volume with more than 450,000 entries, the ultimate U.S. unabridged dictionary, was originally published in 1961 and republished in 1993 with an addenda of 65 pages of new words. Merriam-Webster is planning a fourth print edition but not for the near future. However, a new revision of the third edition with an expanded addenda section will be available later this year. There is also an online version, Merriam-Webster Unabridged.

Comprehensive dictionaries
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 4th ed. 2000. 2,116 p. Houghton Miffin, $60 (0-395-82517-2).
The fourth edition of AHD has added color photographs and 10,000 new words, bringing the total to well over 200,000. The editors concentrate on usage, which makes this more prescriptive than other current dictionaries. Notes – regional, synonym, usage, and history – appear in boxes by relevant entries. The illustrations are varied – one two-page spread has pictures of a samovar, Samoyed, sampan, samurai, George S and, and a sand dollar. An abridged version of AHD is available free of charge.

New Oxford American Dictionary. By Frank R Abate and Elizabeth Jewell. 2001. 2,064 p. Oxford, $50 (0-19-511227-X)
This is the most recent of the comprehensive dictionaries (between an unabridged and a college dictionary in size), with about 250,000 definitions. The entries are structured around “core” senses, with subsenses grouped a round the core (e.g. cowl – “large loose hood”: subsense include a monk’s cloak, a hood-shaped covering of a chimney, the part of a car that supports the dashboard). Definitions, place-names, biographical entries, and proper names are interfiled, so we find Jackson (the city) appearing together with Andrew, Jesse, Mahalia, Michael, and Thomas Jackson (all expect Mahalia have photos) as well as Jackson Hole, Jacksonian, and Jacksonville.

The World Book Dictionary. 2v. 2001. 2,430 p. World Book, $99 (0-7166-0298-9).
The number of entries (225,000) in this set puts it in the comprehensive section, but the price is closer to that of an unabridged dictionary. Because it is to be used in conjunction with The World Book Encyclopedia, biographical and geographical entries are not included. In addition, because it supposedly reflects the way people should speak, offensive language is not included. The definitions are clear and concise, with the most common meaning first. Sentences or quotations enhance the meanings, as do numerous line drawings.

College or desk dictionaries
The American Heritage College Dictionary. 4th ed. By Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002. Houghton Mifflin, $26 (0-618-09848-8).
This is now the most current college dictionary, with 9-11, 9/11 listed between nine days’ wonder and ninepin. Population figures for U.S. cities are from the 2000 census. The volume has the same attractive format as the larger American Heritage Dictionary of English Language, with photos and line drawings in the outside margin of each page. However, the illustrations are fewer, and they are not in color. AHCD also sharers with its parent boxes for usage notes, synonyms, regionalism and word histories.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 10th ed. 2001. 1,600 p. Merriam-Webster, $24.95 (0-87779-709-9).
The 10th edition was first published in 1993, but like other college dictionaries, it is updated annually. The 2001 version contains new words (DVDs, dot-com) that were not in earlier printings. In most similar dictionaries, biographical and geographical entries are interfiled with word entries, but here they have their own sections. This is the first current dictionary to be available on the Web free of charge [].

Microsoft Encarta Dictionary. Ed. by Anne H. Soukhanov. 2001. 1,687 p. St. Martin’s, $24.95 (0-312-28087-4).
Editor Soukhanov believes a dictionary should provide help for people who have trouble speaking or writing English. Thus, entries include misspellings (e.g. suprise, and incorrect spelling of surprise). Technological words are designated by a lightning bolt; support is so designated because the eighth definition is “to provide technical support for a computing system.” Not surprisingly, new words concentrate on technology – for instance, TTL4N, tt. Illustrations are limited to a few small black-and-white photographs and simple line drawings. There are boxes for quick facts, correct usage, and “literary links”. The number of entries is greater than in other college dictionaries, but perhaps the misspellings are included in that number.

The Oxford American Dictionary and Language Guide. 1999. 1,330 p. Oxford, $35 (0-19-513449-4)
Even though this isn’t described as a college dictionary, it fits the b ill. The words and definitions are taken from the Oxford database (200 million words). It includes many line drawings and shaded boxes containing spellings, synonyms, and pronunciation tips as well as word history for some words. A language guide and numerous almanac-type lists are also included.

Random House Webster’s College Dictionary. 2d ed. 2001. 1,573 p. Random, $24.95 (0-375-42560-8) Described as the dictionary that has the most words, the 2001 printing includes definitions of burn (a CD) and mouse potato. The prefatory material lists new words by decades, and a supplement provides a guide for avoiding insensitive and offensive language. Random House concentrates on definitions, so line drawings are few and far between.

Webster’s New World College Dictionary. 4th ed. Ed. by Michael Agnes. 2001. 1,716 p. Hungry Minds, $23.95 (0-0286-3118-8)
This dictionary, first published by World Publishing, is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary with a revision and a new publisher, Hungry Minds (publishers of the For Dummies series). It is a descriptive source with fewer entries and illustrations than the other college dictionaries, yet it is the dictionary of choice for the AP, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal. Definitions are arranged historically, and Americanisms are starred. The 2001 printing offers 150 new terms, including eye candy and road rage.

Webster’s II New College Dictionary. Rev. ed. 2001. 1,514 p. Houghton Mifflin, $24 (0-395-96214-5).
Originally published in 1995 and updated in 2001, Webster’s II has a definition of Internet but not of chat room. There are 200,000 entries, with no obscene words and very few illustrations. Biographical and Geographical definitions are in separate sections.