DICTIONARIES, MOSTLY RUSSIAN.

In googling around to try to satisfy Christopher Culver’s curiosity about the “two antiquated dictionaries” that are all you can usually find for sale in Russia (“The first is by one V. K. Müller, the second by one M.A. O’Bri[e]n. I’ve had the darndest time finding out when either of these was first published, since the reprintings themselves never tell.”), I ran across this interesting page by a Russian listing his favorite dictionaries; he starts off with a hearty recommendation (which I heartily second) for Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, and after discussing a few other English dictionaries he moves on to Russian ones (both mono- and bilingual), including some I wasn’t aware of.
Incidentally, the earliest edition I can find of the Müller is from 1930 (it’s mentioned in the linked Russian page), and of the O’Brien from 1931, though I can’t tell if either is the first edition. And, as I said in my comment at Culver’s site, nobody seems to know who O’Brien was: “they just give initials and ‘fl. 1930-’ (no birth date). Another lexicographical mystery!”

Comments

  1. The Müller dictionary, as a public domain lexicon, is a damned awesome resource for open source software developers. I’ve spent some time picking it apart and parsing it into a dictionary database for use in language pedagogy software. I think you can still just download a copy from sunsite or any GNU mirror and open it up in any text editor that displays Russian/Western codepages.

  2. Since this post was only MOSTly about Russian dictionaries, I’m going to shamelessly exploit it by asking for any recommendations of Hindi dictionaries with good etymologies. I’m quite happy with a monolingual one, if it has decent etymologies. Hindi’s approach to growing its vocabulary seems remarkably like that of its English cousin, stealing words without any qualms. This relaxed attitude to the myth of linguistic purity is one of its most appealing aspects to me, and with the rise of a very Sanskritic Hindi as a sort of nationalist weapon, a good etymological dictionary would be both fun and interesting. It could also be useful for those times when someone insists on trying to promote the use in Hindi of one of the dodecasyllabic, vowel-free zungenbrecher/schlangenwörter that pass for “words” in Sanskrit.

  3. John Emerson says:

    Somewhat on topic, I’m buying a Hippocrene Dutch-English dictionary for less than $5 on the internet and suspect that the Dutch dictionary industry is illegally dumping their excess product on the US.
    I’m planning to puzzle out the Fokke en Sukke cartoons, if you need to know why.

  4. John Emerson says:

    Somewhat on topic, I’m buying a Hippocrene Dutch-English dictionary for less than $5 on the internet and suspect that the Dutch dictionary industry is illegally dumping their excess product on the US.
    I’m planning to puzzle out the Fokke en Sukke cartoons, if you need to know why.

  5. “I’m planning to puzzle out the Fokke en Sukke cartoons, if you need to know why. ”
    Samuel Johnson:“I hope you’re not using the first English dictionary to look up rude words!”
    Edmund Blackadder: “I wouldn’t be too hopeful — that’s what all the other ones will be used for.”

  6. Title Page: M[ichael] A O’Brien, M.A., Ph.D., The Queen’s University, Belfast; Member of the Royal Irish Academy.

  7. Professor Michael A. O’Brien, 1896-1962?

  8. Bruno van Wayenburg says:

    @John Emerson,
    There are mainly English obscene words in Fokke en Sukke, a freak coincidence of course, since they’re really Frisian (sounding) first names.
    But if you need any help or background in your quest, I’ll be glad to help.

  9. Professor O’Brien’s obituary appeared in The Times on December 28, 1962 (assuming it’s the same linguist Michael A O’Brien)

  10. Professor Michael A. O’Brien, 1896-1962?
    Looks like it! Now, what was a Celticist doing writing a Russian dictionary? Anybody have access to either the Celtica or Times obit?

  11. John Emerson says:

    Bruno, I’ll try to keep you posted.
    They’re supposed to be putting out an English version, but it’s been delayed. I should have told them that academic publishing houses are exasperatingly slow.

  12. John Emerson says:

    Bruno, I’ll try to keep you posted.
    They’re supposed to be putting out an English version, but it’s been delayed. I should have told them that academic publishing houses are exasperatingly slow.

  13. We have a Müller from the 60′s. Looking through our family collection, I also found an English-Russian Lexicon by one A. D. Miller published in 1937 in Moscow.
    James

  14. @John Emerson, when I think of Dutch swear words for some reason I think of Bob, an American blogger who grew up in Belgium. Google neither clever nor witty. His blog is mostly for family members, but he might answer an odd question or two if you’re nice.

  15. John Emerson says:

    Fokke & Sukke is in the mail, and I’ll order the Dutch dictionary shortly. After I’ve had a chance to wrestle with it for awhile, I’ll recruit whatever Dutchpersons I can find.

  16. John Emerson says:

    Fokke & Sukke is in the mail, and I’ll order the Dutch dictionary shortly. After I’ve had a chance to wrestle with it for awhile, I’ll recruit whatever Dutchpersons I can find.

  17. Fokke and Sukke are translated into Russian though.

  18. Here’s what seems to be a 1928 version of the Müller:
    http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/30450793
    and a 1930 version of O’Brien:
    http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/4524934

  19. Excellent! I should have thought of WorldCat myself.

  20. UC Berkeley also has a (microform) copy of the Müller.

  21. John Emerson says:

    Russian civilization is more advanced than ours in high culture type activities like ballet, chess, Fokke en Sukke, etc.

  22. John Emerson says:

    Russian civilization is more advanced than ours in high culture type activities like ballet, chess, Fokke en Sukke, etc.

  23. Earliest O’Brien editions in SSEES library (School of Slavonic and East European Studies, part of University College, London) and in British Library is G Allen & Unwin edition of 1930.
    The British Library has this to say about the 1931 (US) version mentioned by language hat: “Reissue of the edition originally published in Germany, 1930, with a new title page for the American publisher. – Printed in Germany”
    German publisher = Bernhard Tauchnitz, Leipzig

  24. Anybody have access to the Times obit?

    Professor Michael O’Brien, who died on Christmas Day at the age of 66, was senior professor in the school of Celtic studies in the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

    He was generally recognized as one of the foremost authorities on old and middle Irish and on Irish place names and bardic poetry. He was also one of the editors of the Book of Leinster, and his corpus of Irish genealogy appeared early this year.

    O’Brien was born in Clonmel, co. Tipperary, of parents who were native Irish speakers. After taking his B.A. and M.A. degrees with first class honours in University College Dublin he won a travelling scholarship in Celtic studies in 1920. He went to Germany, where he studied under Professor Pokorny and other scholars, and in 1925 was awarded the degree of Ph.D. in Berlin University. He joined the staff of Queen’s University, Belfast, in the same year as a lecturer in Celtic languages and literature, and in 1939 was appointed reader in those subjects there. From 1942 to 1945 he was on the staff of the School of Celtic Studies. He left to fill the newly established chair of Celtic languages and literature at Queen’s University, but in 1947 was appointed senior professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies.

  25. How the hell did he find time to do a Russian dictionary?

  26. Google Book Search snippetly reveals “It was in Berlin that he added not only German, but also Russian, to his native …” (Lochlann, vol. 3. (1965), p. 443).

  27. Nice find! [Insert ritual curses at "snippet view."]

  28. Fuller quote (by gaming the snippets):
    “It was in Berlin that he added not only German, but also Russian, to his native Irish and English; German was the language of his home and Russian literature his favourite recreation. It was in the Universities of Berlin and Leipzig that he got his firm grasp on Indo-European linguistics and more especially on Slavonic, which he knew as no other Celtic scholar, except Pedersen, has known it.”

  29. John Emerson says:

    Certainly a Hat kind of guy. All he lacks at this point is some sort of gross eccentricity, and I’m sure that that can be found.
    Certainly if you’re going to learn a language thoroughly, writing and publishing a dictionary of the language is one of the best methods. I’m surprised that more people don’t do this.

  30. John Emerson says:

    Certainly a Hat kind of guy. All he lacks at this point is some sort of gross eccentricity, and I’m sure that that can be found.
    Certainly if you’re going to learn a language thoroughly, writing and publishing a dictionary of the language is one of the best methods. I’m surprised that more people don’t do this.

  31. I started to do it for Georgian but was too lazy to follow through.

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