Gage Canadian Dictionary.
Toronto, ON: Gage Educational Publishing Company, 1997. 1718 pp., hardcover, $29.95.
Review by Mark Morton.
My first dictionary, won in a spelling bee twenty years ago, was an odd creature: its definitions made no attempt to use gender neutral language ("DEMOCRACY - the belief that all men share the same rights"); it contained no etymological information (prompting my childhood belief that words had always meant what they presently meant); and it contained numerous appendices of dubious relevance to a child, like myself, growing up on the Canadian prairies (such as a chart listing the various player-positions in cricket, including the Silly Mid Off, the Fine Leg, and the Backward Short Leg). In contrast, the new Gage Canadian Dictionary is an astute, informative, and elegant dictionary for use by high school and university students, and by the general adult population. Especially fine is this dictionary's unabashed emphasis on words that are uniquely Canadian, words like "patriate" (as in patriating the constitution), "snowbird" (a Canadian who goes south for the winter), and "squidjigger" (not, as I assumed, a Celtic dance, but rather a device for snaring squid). On the downside, the Gage's emphasis on Canadian English means that it contains no entry for Silly Mid Off, an omission that will surely have a deleterious effect on North American cricket.
Physically, the dictionary is very well-made: my 33 year old eyes can read the entries with ease, not only because of the font size, but also because the entries effectively use different type faces to distinguish their various components, such as the head word, the definition, and the illustrative examples of the word in use. The dictionary also passed a test I learned from an eager encyclopedia salesman: I was able to lift the entire dictionary from my desk by pulling upwards on a single page - nothing teared, nothing stretched, nothing smeared. The book, in short, is as tough and hardy as the Canucks who'll use it, and I would be glad to see one in every home and high school locker in Canada.
Mark Morton teaches at The University of Winnipeg and is the author of Cupboard Love: A Dictionary of Culinary Curiosities.
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Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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