June 24, 2007


A moment of annoyance: I discovered yesterday that Leonard R. N. Ashley's What's in a Name?  Everything You Wanted to Know (revised ed., 1996) lacks an index.  In particular, there's no index of names.

I can understand why there's no index to the names cited in the book; there are zillions of them.  But there's also no index of the names of scholars mentioned in the book, or of topics covered, and those wouldn't have been difficult to assemble and would be useful to readers.  Even the bibliographic references are sprinkled throughout the book.  It's almost impossible to find anything without leafing through the whole volume. 

[Addendum 6/26: Rey Aman tells me that Ashley complained to him long ago "that the publisher was too cheap to spend money on compiling and adding an index."  I suspected as much.]

The book has a gee-whiz, falling in love with weird and wonderful words, tone to it that doesn't wear well.  (And I'm a member of the American Name Society.)  I'd recommend against trying to read it through.  And I'd totally disrecommend it to Geoff Pullum, who wanders about Language Log Plaza muttering imprecations against word puzzles and the like.

zwicky at-sign csli period stanford period edu

Posted by Arnold Zwicky at June 24, 2007 01:19 PM