- Series: American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
- Hardcover: 2112 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade; 5 Ind Thm edition (November 1, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0547041012
- ISBN-13: 978-0547041018
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 2.6 x 11 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 201 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #368,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition 5 Ind Thm Edition
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About the Author
The Editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries are trained lexicographers with a varied array of interests and expertise. Most of the editors hold graduate degrees, and several have degrees in linguistics or in the history of the English language. All the editors familiarize themselves with the vocabulary in specific subject areas, collect materials on new developments and usage, and work in association with consultants to ensure that the content of our publications is as accurate and up-to-date as possible.Steven Pinker, Chair of the American Heritage Dictionary Usage Panel, is Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He has also taught at Stanford and MIT. His research on visual cognition and the psychology of language has won prizes from the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution of Great Britain, and the American Psychological Association. He has also received six honorary doctorates, several teaching awards, and numerous prizes for his books The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and The Blank Slate. He is currently Honorary President of the Canadian Psychological Association, and writes frequently for The New Republic, The New York Times, and other publications. He has been named Humanist of the Year, and is listed in Foreign Policy and Prospect magazine s The World s Top 100 Public Intellectuals and in Time magazine s The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today. His latest book is The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature.
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For the entries, I looked at a short section near the word "dictionary." Compared to the fourth edition, the fifth edition dropped "didapper" (a type of grebe) and added "dicyclomine" (a medical drug); this reflects a greater emphasis on technical words. (This continues a trend that has been occurring since the first edition -- dropping "Dictograph" and "Didache" and adding "dictyosome" and "didanosine.")
To me, the outstanding feature of the American Heritage Dictionary has been the side notes -- not just synonyms, but also usage notes, word histories, etc. Unfortunately, in this respect, the fifth edition is considerably weaker than the fourth.
In the L section through "limbo", the fourth edition has 24 words with side notes (excluding synonyms), but the fifth edition has only 13. That is, about half of the old side notes are gone. The fifth edition no longer has a word history for "lemon", a usage note for "lifestyle", or a regional note for "lightning bug." There is also a small reduction in the number of words with synonyms.
These side notes made the American Heritage Dictionary fun for browsing, and the fifth edition is much weaker in this regard than the fourth. It's still an excellent dictionary, but less interesting and enjoyable than the previous edition.
Don't get me wrong: I like the AHD. It's the philologist's print dictionary. The etymological dictionaries included are precious. However, I do not assume that there is always wifi access, nor that I wish to access a website all the time that my large book is away from my hand. A bit gormless, in my view.
My gripe with this new edition is that I find the use of different color fonts for the text distracting. The main word is in blue, which for me, makes it harder to find on the page, and makes the page too 'busy' along with the (great) color photos. It starts looks like a page full of advertisements, too 'loud' for me.
I prefer the third edition, with thick, black, bold lettering for the key word, which makes the word I'm searching for easier to find. I'm willing to give up the color pix for readability, clarity, and 'quiet.' After all, I'm there to look up and study words. If I need pix, I can get them online in a second. And really: English hasn't changed that much, and you can get the 3rd edition third edition very, very cheap.
But the phone app is great with this edition: the full dictionary with you everywhere, in your pocket. That's a big plus, and I must admit I'm happy I have it. So I gave the dictionary to a friend, kept the app, use my 3rd edition, and everyone's happy!