Monthly Archives: January 2011

On the use of dictionaries in statutory interpretation (first in a series)

From The Oxford Guide to Practical Lexicography, by Sue Atkins and Michael Rundell:

Most people would agree that words have meanings, sometimes multiple meanings. But meanings and dictionary senses aren’t the same thing at all. Meanings exist in infinite numbers of discrete communicative events, while the senses in a dictionary represent lexicographers’ attempts to impose some order on this babel. We do this by making generalizations (or abstractions) from the mass of available language data. These generalizations aim to make explicit the meaning distinctions which—in normal communication—humans deal with unconsciously and effortlessly. As such, the “senses” we describe do not have (and do not claim) any special status as “authoritative” statements about language.

“AT&T slips into the Supreme Court chamber this morning…”

“…moments before arguments are set to start. He feels slightly affronted that nobody seems to notice him. (AT&T is a very emotional guy.)”

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Personal privacy ≠ corporate privacy

I didn’t intend for the first substantive post here to be devoted to shameless self-promotion, but it’s not every day that a Supreme Court justice gives you a shout-out during an oral argument.

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Opening statement

A number of years ago, I read Steven Pinker’s book The Language Instinct and decided I wanted to major in linguistics in college. Unfortunately, I’d already finished to college by then (majoring in American Studies, the last refuge of the indecisive). In fact, I’d gone to law school and was a practicing lawyer.

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