Here’s something I came across the other day that my readers may find interesting or at the very least amusing. One of my design goals for my current historical lexicography project is to really nail down the bibliographical details provided in the quotation paragraph. This results in a fair number of mysteries to be solved and challenges to be overcome. The other day I was verifying the year for a volume of an archaeological journal, and I saw that the title page said 1951 but then below it in square brackets it said “Published in 1952.” I checked subsequent volumes, and this off-by-one situation went on for a few years. See below for the title page of volume 14.
There are a couple of schools of thought on the purpose of bibliographical data in citations, so what do these schools of thought say with regard to lexicography? One school of thought is that bibliographical data is put there to help readers locate the original materials in a library. In this case, the nominal year of 1951 might be most appropriate. But another school of thought is that the year is supposed to say something about when the quotation text appeared in the printed record, and with this in mind the actual year of publication of 1952 is more appropriate. What’s a lexicographer to do?!
I’ll show you what I did, and I invite your comments, suggestions, and anecdotes of similar quandaries. For now I’ve simply supplied a bracketed editorial note in the bibliographical data apprising the reader of the discrepancy in year. See below (and click to enlarge).