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Un-American English Reconsidered

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This paper challenges the widespread assumption that Robert Burchfield (1923–2004), the editor of the four-volume Supplement to the OED (1972–1986), included more World Englishes than his predecessors did. It compares Burchfield's Supplement with the text upon which it was based: the 1933 OED Supplement edited by Charles Onions and Sir William Craigie. The case study examines in detail over nine thousand dictionary entries (10% of each dictionary) across nineteen parameters, in order to reveal that Burchfield's lexicographic practice did not always match his stated policies on World Englishes. The results will offer an alternative perspective, and will introduce a different editor, Charles Onions, as the true champion of World Englishes in the OED.
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