LINGUIST List 10.808

Sun May 23 1999

Disc: Russakovskii: Encyclopedia of English Verbs

Editor for this issue: Andrew Carnie <carnielinguistlist.org>


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  1. Eugene Russakovskii, erusnetzero.net

Message 1: erusnetzero.net

Date: Sun, 23 May 1999 18:02:59 -0700
From: Eugene Russakovskii <erusnetzero.net>
Subject: erusnetzero.net



I would like to reply to Dr. van Hoek's review of my 
"Encyclopedia of English Verb Forms: Rules & Exceptions" 
("Entsiklopediya Form Angliyskikh Glagolov: Pravila i 
Isklyucheniya", if in Russian), "Karavella" (Kharkov) - 
"Prestige" (Moscow), 1998, 560pp., in Russian. published in
LINGUIST 10.650.

 
According to Dr. van Hoek, "Encyclopedia..." is a book that 
is concerned with primarily "past tense and past-participle 
forms for a vast range of English verbs, both regular and 
irregular". I disagree with this characterization. The 
book, and this is its main feature, deals with all English 
verbs having non-standard grammatical paradigm. "All" means 
both widely used and rather rare &
curious ones.

Having in mind the term "non-standard" grammatical paradigm, 
I gave all the rules describing standard grammatical 
paradigm and listed all the exceptions to these rules 
(please, see Section 1, pp.15-164, in my book). (Dr. van 
Hoek does not mention this in her review.) 

One can compare this material from "Encyclopedia..." with 
the corresponding one given in the well-known monograph by 
R.Quirk, S.Greenbaum, G.Leech, J.Svartvik "A Comprehensive 
Grammar of the English Language", pp.96-120. Being written 
in the same manner, my book expands essentially the 
monograph's material, corrects a number of its errors and 
inaccuracies.

Dr. van Hoek's review reports my "Encyclopedia..." "as a 
handbook to be used by researchers and Russian-speaking 
students of English as a second language." I disagree with 
this as well. I think, "Encyclopedia..." should be regarded 
as an *encyclopedia* for researchers. It can be also treated 
as a reference book for researchers. But I agree with Dr. 
van Hoek that it should not be used as a textbook for 
beginners. Russian-speaking students have many other 
opportunities and many [other than "Encyclopedia..."!] 
appropriate handbooks/textbooks for studying English. I 
think "Encyclopedia..." is not for any Russian-speaking 
person who likes/loves English, but only for those of them 
who have a good command of English and are in a position to 
perceive the book's material. For English-speaking 
researchers, my book is an encyclopedia, a reference book 
for professionals in the area of English linguistics.

As for applied aspects (frequencies of using these or those 
versions of a verb inflexion and the like), the book (and 
the Author) had no intention/purpose to study them. 

In her review, Dr. van Hoek noticed: "Almost every single 
page of these tables [containing irregular verbs - E.R.] 
includes verb forms which I (a native speaker of American 
English) had never heard of and which would certainly be 
flagged as errors if they were used by a second-language 
speaker of English." Again, I repeat my contention that my 
book is an encyclopedia, not a textbook. It's quite natural 
that encyclopedias and large dictionaries (like, say, 
"Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary" of 1994) may 
and do contain lots of words (and verbs, together with their 
inflexions) that are not used in somebody's current speech 
(no matter, whether this individual is a native or non-
native speaker of whether British or American English).

I pay attention to the following circumstance: all really 
rare, archaic and obsolete versions of Past Indefinite or 
Past Participle verb inflexions are marked by bracketing in 
the book. For example, the verb "fight" has unbracketed 
versions "fought" and bracketed archaic versions and 
dialectisms "(fit)", "(fout)", "(foughten)" (see p.223). 
Having seen bracketed versions, readers should refer to 
Subsection 2.10 "Comments on the Table of Irregular Verbs 
0.2", where they'll find all the necessary explanations 
related to usage (see p.495 for the verb "fight"). 
Instructions to this effect can be easily found in Section 2 
(see pp.172-175).

In her review, Dr. van Hoek mentions [as archaic] variants 
"fixt" and "mixt" of the verbs "fix" and "mix". As a 
scrupulous investigator, I often used "Webster's... 
Unabridged Dictionary" as one of my sources. The above 
mentioned forms can be easily found in this source (please, 
see there pp. 537-538, 918-919) with no comments on their 
usage (but, please, find my corresponding comments on 
pp.495, 512 of my book).
 
Similarly, Dr. van Hoek says: "One type of distortion is 
particularly common and could be seriously problematic for 
any non-native speaker using this book as a guide: particle 
verbs are consistently listed as prefixal verbs. That is, 
'wear out' is given as 'outwear'; 'tear out' is given as 
'outtear'; 'tear up' is given as 'uptear'; 'seek out' is 
given as 'outseek'; etc. ... These prefixal forms ... to my 
ears are simply mistakes..." The above mentioned verbs can 
be easily found in "Webster's ... Unabridged...": "outseek" 
(p.1023), "outtear" (p.1024), "outwear" (p.1024), "uptear" 
(p.1571). For example, "uptear" means "wrench or tear out by 
or as if by the roots of foundations; destroy". As for the 
verb "outwear", there are many different meanings of this 
word ("wear or last longer than", "outlast", "outlive", 
"wear out", "destroy by wearing", "exhaust in strength or 
endurance", "pass (time)" - see "Webster's... 
Unabridged..." (or, say, "The American Heritage 
Dictionary"). 

In conclusion, I would hope both linguists at large and 
inquisitive lovers of the English language might be 
interested in learning more about English verbs and their 
inflexions and will find such information in my 
"Encyclopedia of English Verb Forms".
 
Best regards,
 
Eugene Russakovskii.
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