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Books of Interest: Sources 58
Reviewed by Dean Tudor
A Dictionary of Superstitions
This paperback reissue of the 1989 original includes divinations,
spells, cures, charms, signs and omens, rituals, and taboos. And,
of course, it is arranged A - Z by term. Its scope is mainly coverage
of those superstitions from Great Britain and Eire which survived
into the twentieth century. These everyday domestic beliefs are
tagged to some literary reference and some date. And it is cross-referenced
This is a paperback reissue of the 1998 abridgement of The Oxford
Companion to the English Language. As the original companion
presented key aspects of English at the cusp of the 20th - 21st
century, then the abridgement presents even "keyer" aspects
of the event. Here is coverage of the varieties of English around
the world, the cultural impact of the language, the nature and origins
of words, some pronunciation, vocabulary, usage, and word-formation.
There are chronologies and a theme bibliography in the appendices.
It is, like other companions, arranged in dictionary style, A -
Z, with copious cross-references.
Susie Dent is a word expert featured on British TV and radio (also
see Barber below). This is the third annual tour of new slang and
buzzwords, principally in the UK; as well, this "language report"
seeks to update the other two. New words are constantly entering
our language, and of late, these have apparently come from the worlds
of politics, fashion and media, business and trademarks. Newly minted
words on the international stage (beyond the UK) include "crackberry".
My own suggestion to this will be "redberry", now being
used to describe the cheaper Chinese knockoffs. In case you are
wondering, "fanboy" is a male fan of geek culture (there
is a fangirl), and "overdog" is a successful person who
is dominant in one's field (although Oxford uses the phrase "in
their field" when defining the singular word). Here's a puzzler:
chapter 15 deals with "dogs" and their use as catchphrases,
but there is no reference here to "overdogs". Chapter
topics embrace headline writers, business speak, the language of
undergarments, a comparison of Johnson's 1755 dictionary with the
OED of 2005, the rise of swear words, and what looks to be a long
commercial for the OED online (not a free service). VIP words of
late have included SARS (2002), podcasting (2004) and sudoku (2005).
These are found in the last chapter which deals with VIP words of
the previous 100 years (one per year).
Katherine Barber is Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Dictionary
Department at Oxford University Press in Toronto, frequently appearing
on Canadian TV and radio (see also Dent above). Unlike Dent, though,
Barber sticks to the history of older words - about 500 of them.
She has been known on the CBC as the "Word Lady", and
indeed this book is based on that gig. She organizes them by season
and then thematically within (e.g., Winter has words associated
with the flu season, New Year's, Christmas, pension planning; Spring
is all Easter, taxes and cottages). Themes may be Canadian but the
words are all international English. Her popular etymologies hark
back to Mediaeval French, Anglo-Saxon, Greek, Latin, Arabic, Asiatic
and Canadian aboriginal origins. The word "mitten" for
example comes from Provencal, "maven" from Yiddish, "hooch"
from Tlingit, and "chipmunk" from Ojibwa. There is an
index to the specific words.
COMPUTER BOOKS FOR JOURNALISTS
Yahoo! To The Max; an extreme searcher guide
Hock is an award-winning writer and Internet trainer. His previous
book for CyberAge was The Extreme Searcher's Internet Handbook
(2004). Except for a few screen shots, this book looks like it was
put to bed at the end of 2004. While this currently reduces its
up-to-date usefulness, it is still a reader-friendly guide to online
research, communications, investments, and e-commerce through the
portal. Forty or so features are explained, including the invaluable
My Yahoo, the News Alerts, and Instant Messaging. At one time Yahoo
was a leader, but now it comes up with its own competitive versions
of stuff developed by other companies such as AOL (for IM) or Google
(News, Toolbar). Yahoo had E-mail accounts long before Google, but
its storage was a mere 2 MB. When Google began GMail, it upped the
free storage to 1 GB - and Yahoo responded in kind. Previously,
the extra storage was a "premium" which Yahoo subscribers
had to pay for. The Yahoo drill-through directory is its best contribution,
but this is not really mentioned anywhere in the book. My Yahoo
is a solid reason for my using the system, with its built-in RSS
feeds, features, news, weather, sports, etc. But otherwise there
is nothing particularly Canadian about Yahoo except its affiliation
with Rogers (not mentioned in the book) and its "dot ca"
domain, which is ultimately confusing to many in the U.S. My wife
has a Yahoo.Ca account, but many of her American friends get back
bounces if they type in Yahoo.Com instead. Apparently, Yahoo has
no system of forwarding. Personally, I've found loading Google to
be faster than Yahoo on dialup. But they are about the same on broadband.
Why? Maybe it's because Yahoo has more images in its adverts (Google's
ads are largely text-based URLs).
The Invention of Journalism Ethics; the path to objectivity
Ward is an associate professor of journalism ethics at the School
of Journalism, University of British Columbia; he was formerly with
CP. This book is #38 in the McGill-Queen's Studies in the History
of Ideas. It deals with the twin subjects of journalism ethics and
objectivity. Ward says that journalists and the public need a new
theory to enable them to recognize and avoid biased and unbalanced
reporting. At the same time, he recognizes that objectivity is not
based on absolute standards. Rather, the situation, context, and
the relationship with the elements of society come into play. He
traces origins, and hence his work is also a history of journalism
ethics (partisan English newsbooks of the 1600s, the objectivity
in the late 1800s, modern day constructs of weaseling). Nevertheless,
there is a difference between "journalist", "editor"
and "publisher" which needs to be explored. While the
first is covered in this book (along with society), it is actually
the other two who make the major decisions. Could this book also
herald the return of media literacy? There is a bibliography for
further reading, plus a scholarly index.
McMullan is a professor of sociology and criminology at Saint Mary's
University on Halifax. He has written many books and articles on
business crime and the media and crime. Here he examines the media
coverage devoted to the ten year (1992-2002) aftermath of the May
9, 1992 explosion where 26 miners died at the Westray mine. This
is media content analysis; some of the book's material has been
drawn from lectures, conferences, and seminars at universities.
It follows on Fernwood Publishing's collection (edited by C. McCormick)
The Westray Chronicles; a case study in corporate crime (1999).
The focus of the current project was to study the connections between
power, knowledge, and truth in three related institutional areas:
the media, the criminal justice system, and the public inquiry.
McMullan recounts the tragedy and the subsequent media coverage
in about 100 pages, including 23 convincing tables. His book is
to be the first in a series to be a systematic study of the disaster
and aftermath; it lays the groundwork and the theses. His bibliography
includes a good listing of other books which cover, among other
topics, news coverage of disasters and corporate crimes from other
places, such as Catholic priests and sexual abuse, the Goteburg
dancehall fire, Ford Pintos, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Yellowstone
forest fires. Unfortunately, the book has no index.