Lack of Dictionary Raises Questions of Linguistic Identity
In the same week Oxford Dictionaries announced the inclusion of amazeballs, binge-watch, clickbait and many other new words into its online edition, the Toronto Globe and Mail asked a compelling question: Who is speaking up for Canadian English?
The article notes that Sunday is the 10-year anniversary of the last publication of the widely used Oxford Canadian Dictionary. The Oxford Canadian was created and published in 1998 and updated in 2004, but there is no longer a separate Canada-based staff of lexicographers studying the language with the aim of updating the tome. There is no separate Canadian presence on the Oxford Dictionaries website. My premium subscription gives me the option of viewing the site from a US or UK perspective.
It might be argued that the American dialect is more distinct from the British variety than is Canadian or Australian English. Americans felt the need to assert their national identity through language 200 years ago. If countries can share a queen, why not share a dictionary?
John Allemang writes in the Globe and Mail:
The Canadian Oxford was the last of the country’s research-driven print dictionaries, definitive volumes intended for a broad national readership that yearned for guidance, enlightenment and occasional delight. Its disappearance left a vacuum that has proved hard to fill.
The Editors’ Association of Canada had an official response to the article. Clearly the question Who is speaking up for Canadian English? caught the attention of those who edit Canadian English. The EAC said it has sought and is seeking a partner to produce a Canadian English dictionary:
We immerse ourselves in the lexicon of Canadian English daily and we want to answer the call for a dictionary that keeps pace with the changes in our language.
The EAC, incidentally, also began to unveil a new name with new branding. The Editors' Association of Canada/Association canadienne des réviseurs will be known as Editors Canada in English and Réviseurs Canada in French. A new logo and and website design are part of the package.
Note that the new name eliminates any further debate over whether Editors should have an apostrophe. The EAC name was adopted in 1994.