Happy holidays from everyone here at Rare Books and Special Collections! As an early Christmas gift, we offer the final student dictionary report from the course English 320: History of the English Language. As I mentioned in last week’s post, the exhibition, The Road to the OED, has been extended until the end of January, so please feel free to stop by to see it when we open on January 2 after the winter break. Hope to see you then!

Walker, John. A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary and Expositor of the English Language. London: G. G. J. and J. Robinson, 1791. PE25 .R62 V. 315

A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary and Expositor of the English Language

A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary and Expositor of the English Language

Written by elocutionist / lexicographer John Walker and released in 1791, A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary and Expositor became renowned as the ‘statute book of English ortheopy’ that ‘settled all doubts’ on issues of English pronunciation (Beal). Born in 1732, Walker was an actor who performed in Bristol, Dublin and London with various acting companies. He married a fellow actress, Sybilla Minors, and after his marriage he converted to Catholicism. After 1768 he retired from acting and became a successful teacher of elocution. He became a popular lecturer frequently invited to give private lectures at various Universities including Oxford and Dublin. He wrote many books on elocution but it is his dictionary for which he is most famous. Walker continued to publish books on the English language until his death in 1807.

What makes his dictionary unique is that it features a section tailored for different speakers on proper pronunciation. There are articles dedicated to rules that Irish and Scottish people should observe for correct pronunciation of English, an article for foreigners in learning English, and an article pointing out the faults of pronunciation of London speakers. There is also a section entitled “Principle of English Language,” containing over 558 rules on proper English pronunciation. In the dictionary proper, some words contain numbered parenthesis which refer to different rules of the “Principles.” Each word in the dictionary contains a definition, a pronunciation guide and sometimes a note which addresses controversies on the pronunciation of the word. Unlike modern dictionaries which employ the IPA system of writing pronunciation, this dictionary follows Thomas Sheridan’s 1780 dictionary system. This system syllabifies words and indicates variations of vowel pronunciation with a superscripted number.

A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary and Expositor of the English Language

A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary and Expositor of the English Language

To situate this work within the history of English lexicography, Walker’s preface gives credit to predecessor dictionaries of Johnson (1747), Kenrick (1773), and Sheridan (1780) among others. According to Walker, each dictionary is “greatly superior to every other that preceded it” (Walker, iii). However, he is critical of the all the various inconsistencies in these dictionaries. Therefore the purpose of Walker’s dictionary was to provide an authoritative and elaborative work that addresses these inconsistencies. On the spectrum of linguistic prescriptivism and descriptivism, Walker is unabashedly prescriptive. He points out that Sheridan is Irish, and that his dictionary pronunciations lean towards an Irish accent which is incorrect in Walker’s view. His “Principles of the English Language” and various guides for “Just Pronunciation” effectively demonstrate his inclinations towards linguistic prescriptivism.

—        Anthony Bigornia (English 320: History of the English Language, 2012-2013)


As the year 2013 draws to a close, it’s a perfect time to review a quick sampling of cIRcle news stories which were featured by the Library. We hope you will not only read them but will also find inspiration and/or ideas on how you can disseminate your scholarly research in the New Year. Enjoy!

Flashback to a time when cIRcle, UBC’s Digital Repository nabbed a top spot [p.26]:

UBC Library update – CPSLD Newsletter by Glenn Drexhage on January 31, 2013 | “University Librarian Ingrid Parent’s remarks about the challenges and opportunities facing UBC Library, and research libraries around the world, are highlighted in the Fall 2012 issue of the CPSLD Newsletter.” http://about.library.ubc.ca/2013/01/31/ubc-library-update-cpsld-newsletter/

Recall when cIRcle did it again and ranked even higher according to Webometrics [p.2]:

Spring update in the BCLA Browser – cIRcle rises in rankings by Glenn Drexhage on April 3, 2013 | “UBC’s open access digital repository launched by the Library in 2008 – has moved up in international rankings.” http://about.library.ubc.ca/2013/04/03/spring-update-in-the-bcla-browser/

Discover how cIRcle provides open access to a treasure trove of UBC research globally:

A look inside a digital repository by Jessica Woolman on September 27, 2013 | “The world-wide recognition and awareness of me and UBC increases each time a person finds their way to cIRcle,” says Dwayne Tannant, a Professor at UBC’s School of Engineering. http://about.library.ubc.ca/2013/09/27/a-look-inside-a-digital-repository/

Explore why the GSS cIRcle Open Scholar Award helps increase graduate research impact:

An opportunity for graduate work to stand out by Glenn Drexhage on November 29, 2013 | “In grad school, there is so much emphasis on the thesis, but a lot of great coursework happens along the way, stuff that we’re proud of but doesn’t really get too much recognition beyond a course grade,” says Bailey. “The Open Scholar Award gives an opportunity for that work to stand out.” http://about.library.ubc.ca/2013/11/29/an-opportunity-for-graduate-work-to-stand-out/

Learn more about cIRcle, UBC’s Digital Repository at: circle.ubc.ca [https://circle.ubc.ca/]

Did You Know?

The inaugural Berlin 11 Student and Early Stage Researcher Satellite Conference was held on November 18, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. Gain a UBC graduate student’s perspective into this open access event hosted by the Max Planck Society and the Right to Research Coalition. Read, A Student Profile: Advocating for open access with Tracey Vantyghem and A UBC graduate student’s view of open access and greater research impact for more details. 

Above image is courtesy of the Celebrate Research Week website.


The conclusion of University Librarian Ingrid Parent’s presidency of IFLA and an update on the LibQUAL survey are highlighted in the Fall 2013 issue of the CPSLD Newsletter

Other news covers the digitization of Canada’s oldest feminist periodical, the acquisition of the oldest book in UBC Library’s collections and more.

The Library’s submission begins on page 29 of the newsletter, which is published on behalf of the Council of Post Secondary Library Directors, British Columbia.

Webcast sponsored by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and hosted by the UBC Philosophy Department’s Stephen M. Straker Memorial Lecture. Professor Smith (Duke University) is a leading literary theorist and critic, and also a major contributor to Science and Technology Studies, bringing together insights from literary and critical theory with those from history and philosophy of science. Among her honours are visiting appointments at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, the Stanford Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the US National Humanities Center, and the Rockefeller Foundation Center at Bellagio. She is also the recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts.

With the holidays just around the corner, I know you are all worried about making time (in between shopping, baking, wrapping, packing, cleaning, etc.) to visit The Road to the OED exhibition at Rare Books and Special Collections before it closes on December 24. Well, worry no longer! The exhibition has been extended until the end of January, so we look forward to seeing you all in the New Year!

In this week’s student dictionary report from the course English 320: History of the English Language, we learn about etymologist George Lemon and his study of the roots of the English language.

Lemon, George William. English Etymology; or, A Derivative Dictionary of the English Language. London: Printed for G. Robinson, 1783. PE25 .R62 V. 215

English Etymology

English Etymology

Born in Middlesex in 1726, George William Lemon led a life of various interests; he graduated from Queen’s College Cambridge with a BA, became an ordained priest in East Walton, and was high master at Norwich grammar school, until he resigned after controversy over his management of the school. His scholarly publications included a new Greek grammar to be put into use at the Norwich school, as well as a history of the War of the Roses. English Etymology; or a Derivative Dictionary of the English Language: in Two Alphabets was Lemon’s main lexicographical work, a 12,000 entry-long endeavour to chronicle the etymological roots of words in the English language, printed in 1783.

Whereas most modern dictionaries include a succinct account of each entry’s etymological background, Lemon’s etymological dictionary is formatted with a wider organizational scheme in mind. His dictionary is in two major parts, the first and larger section an alphabetized dictionary of words he determines as having Greek or Latin roots. The second, much smaller section, is a list of those words he considers as having been derived from Saxon and other “Northern dialects”. This division by etymological background functions to demonstrate what Lemon thought was “the whole force and power of the English language [to] know how much the greater part of it has been constructed on the Southern than on the Northern tongues”; that is, his belief that the English language’s apparent familial connections to the languages of antiquity, especially Classical Greek and Latin, was an expression of the language’s refinement and status as an internationally superior language.

English Etymology

English Etymology

As a dictionary whose focus is mainly on the etymological aspects of words, English Etymology does not include several of the features of modern monolingual dictionaries now considered standard; none of his entries include pronunciation or other basic information like part of speech, and most entries also do not provide a definition of the word beyond what can be understood from the forms he cites as etymological evidence. Also notable is his dependence on other etymologists, whose work Lemon compiled, edited, and disputed within many of the entries in his dictionary.
“Who shall be able to account for the origin of language; or who shall say which was the original of all? Such an attempt would be a task too difficult for mortal man to accomplish”, says Lemon in his preface. His etymological dictionary, however, does attempt to draw connections between English and the languages of antiquity as it endeavours to support the English language as one worthy of extensive study and appreciation. As such, it certainly works within a tradition of lexicographical curiosity that continues to characterize the writing of dictionaries today.

—        Kai Ying Chieh (English 320: History of the English Language, 2012-2013)


Last month, she travelled to Berlin, Germany to attend an open access (OA) conference. Tracey Vantyghem – a newly minted librarian from UBC’s School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies (SLAIS) – stated:

“As a student librarian with UBC, I’ve seen how well-placed the library is to act as a hub for advocacy and education in Open Access. I wanted to attend Berlin 11 to learn more about the OA movement in general, and about becoming an effective advocate for making academic research more openly available.”

Vantyghem was referring to the inaugural Berlin 11 Student and Early Stage Researcher Satellite Conference which was held on November 18, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. This OA event was hosted by the Max Planck Society and the Right to Research Coalition.

One of her favorite OA talks was presented by Jack Andraka, “a 15 year-old who’s made a breakthrough in cancer detection. He’s developed a way to test for pancreatic cancer that can diagnose it much earlier than current methods (when a person still has an almost 100% chance of survival), and costs just a few cents. (You can see his TED Talk about it here). Andraka was in high school when he was working on this, and so he was only able to research using free online academic journals in the US National Institute of Health’s database, PubMed Central. Articles behind paywalls cost around $35 each, so without Open Access he simply wouldn’t have had access to the information he needed.”

She continues, “This, to me, was a really amazing example of the increased potential for research to be read, used, and to have a positive impact when it’s openly available, and this is increasingly true as the rising cost of academic journals is creating huge access gaps around the world. When you consider that Harvard University subscribed to 98,900 academic journals in 2008, and the best-funded research institution in India only had access to 10,600[1], you get a sense of how many researchers, policy makers, health-care workers, and even members of the public are going without access to information that could make a big difference.”

When asked about any key OA strategies, resources/tools and trends she discovered that could be helpful to UBC graduate students trying to increase their research impact, she mentions “the launch of the Open Access Button. The OA button is a browser plug-in that aims to show the global effects of research paywalls. Users install the button and then press it when they can’t access the research they need. The plug-in adds this information to a global map showing how many paywalls are being hit globally, and then (and this is the really cool part) helps users to search for an open access version of that article – like those in cIRcle.”

One recommendation she provides is “that other UBC graduate students apply to attend the Berlin Satellite Conference in the future”. She also adds that, “Today’s young researchers are the next generation of academic leaders, and I think that if we are educated and engaged with this movement, we have the potential to bring really positive change to scholarly publishing, and to make knowledge more available to everyone.”

Vantyghem concluded that, “In the meantime, there are definitely ways to get involved: check out the Right to Research Coalition, a coalition of student organizations that advocates for an open scholarly publishing system to learn more and find out how to get involved (you can also look up this R2R on twitter). Or just start by adopting Open Access yourself – it’s as easy as putting your work in cIRcle so others can read and use it.”


[1] Suber, P. (2012). Open Access. MIT Press.

Above photo is courtesy of the Berlin 11 Satellite Conference site

Did You Know?

The GSS cIRcle Open Scholar Award aims to feature UBC as a leader in the open dissemination of graduate student work. UBC Vancouver graduate students upload their own work into the GSS cIRcle Open Scholar Award collection at: https://circle.ubc.ca/handle/2429/42591. Any exemplary non-thesis coursework or manuscript is subject to instructor approval.

First edition of Pride and Prejudice

First edition of Pride and Prejudice

Today, December 16, is Jane Austen’s 238th birthday! I have quite a soft spot for our Jane, so I was too excited when a generous private donor gifted a first edition of Pride and Prejudice to Rare Books and Special Collections last year. We are also fortunate enough to have a first edition of Emma, Austen’s fourth novel and the last published before her death in 1817. In addition, we have some Victorian-era editions with lovely illustrations by Hugh Thomson and Charles E. Brock, as well as all kinds of other Jane Austen goodies.

Hugh Thomson's illustration from Austen's Persuasion

Hugh Thomson’s illustration from Austen’s Persuasion

Speaking of Hugh Thomson’s illustrations, the British Library has just released a number of scanned images on Flickr Commons for anyone to use, remix, and repurpose. Included in this amazing selection are Thomson’s illustrations of Austen’s novels, including this one of the famous scene in Persuasion when Captain Wentworth gives Anne Elliot “the letter.” If you don’t already know about “the letter,” you really should.

If you’d like to celebrate Jane’s birthday by coming down to Rare Books and Special Collections to see some of our Austen holdings in person, we’d love to see you in our reading room any time during our open hours! Remember that you do not need to be affiliated with UBC to use our resources.

So happy birthday, Jane! Thank you for sharing your considerable talent and for continuing to give the world so much pleasure through your enduring works.


a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

UBC Library





Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC | © Copyright The University of British Columbia

Spam prevention powered by Akismet