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On Haiku in English Dictionaries
Henri Béjoint states that the decade between 1975 and 1985 has been called 'a decade of the lexicon', which is even more true of the following decade between 1986 and 1995: never before have so many dictionaries been revised or newly compiled.
It should be noted that, not only in 'college-sized' dictionaries but in large-sized, unabridged dictionaries, there is a steady increase in the number of entry-words with Japanese origin or connection. For example, there are 335 Japanese words in The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, which was newly revised in 1993. This is about three times as many as that in the first edition. But so far little attention has been given to the English borrowings from Japanese.
The purpose of this paper is, therefore, to examine and consider the etymology of haiku (俳句) 'a Japanese poem in three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables' and its definitions in English dictionaries. It has been established that etymologies appear in entry blocks inside open brackets to make them clearly distinguishable, and symbols and abbreviations are commonly used: e.g. '<' indicating 'derived from'. But, in fact, different abbreviations for Japanese are used in most dictionaries: J. (AHCD3), Jp (MWCD10), Jap (Webster3), Jap.(OED, OED2, New SOED), Jpn (WNWD3), while CED, COD9 and POD8 spell it out in full.
Of course, the Japanese haiku is an abbreviation of haikai no ku (俳諧の句) 'unserious or comic verse' (New SOED), which can be reasonably dated from the middle of the 16th century. But as for modern haiku, although 'Japanese', '17 syllables (5, 7 and 5)' and 'a seasonal reference' are indispensable factors in its definition, not all of the dictionaries cited for the present study refer to these three.
広島大学総合科学部紀要. V, 言語文化研究